Tag Archives: fear

How are we to move forward?


A few things have happened lately that have made me think about what it’s like to be a woman in this world.

Before that, I just went around well, being a woman.

I should just start at the beginning. It was this article that started it all.

Since I read it, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

Because, unfortunately, it’s true.

Take today for instance…

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We have a salesperson who comes to our door roughly once every three weeks selling frozen food to us. The food is generally of pretty good quality and I specifically like the frozen fish as there’s more choice than at the local supermarket, plus it’s mostly been fully deboned.  To top it all, it’s cheaper than buying fresh fish (don’t forget, I’m feeding oodles of kids here).

Normally, our salesperson is a slightly ditsy lady. She has a tendency to forget something from my order and a couple of minutes after she’s left, I see her hurtling right back down the road again with my missing items. Though once, admittedly, it did take her until the next day to notice my forgotten eclairs.

Her arrival always sets our dog off. The previous frozen foods salesman was an absolute dog fanatic. He used to spend 20 minutes playing with our dog during every visit, as opposed to five minutes taking my order. Sometimes he even filmed our four-legged friend with his mobile phone, so that when he went home he could relive his work day with his wife. Any moment he had left to spare he whiled away showing me pictures of all his other customer’s dogs.

Our dog (Lexi) still recognises the van. Despite the dog enthusiast having moved away over a year ago. It was a mutual love-love relationship.

So he left and we are now visited by the sales lady who is nice and tries really hard but is obviously completely overwhelmed by the hairy one. Lexi really, really encourages her too to be a dog enthusiast. But so far, she’s still rather intimidated.

Now, knowing what I know, I should be more careful checking off my goods versus my bill. But it’s difficult. As you now know, there is the manic dog, who’s jumping up, trying to catch a lick, then throwing herself, belly-up, onto the ground, desperate for a full-on belly rub down, while barking all the time.

Despite consistently having been informed from the company a good couple of days before that the lady is due, I have always, always forgotten and then been ‘surprised’ by her arrival, and that leaves me totally embarrassed on two major points:

  • The house is always a tip
  • I have never ever looked through the catalogue and I have no idea what it is I want to order.

Which means: any random child who just happens to be around takes the opportunity to yell out excited ideas of what we really, really don’t need.

Now the frozen food company doesn’t only sell fish. They sell anything at all that they have possibly thought of that could be frozen. Which naturally includes cocktails and doughnuts, snails and lasagnes, dumplings and… well, it’s just easier to tell you that they have a catalogue filled with more than 150 pages of tempting offers.

As a grown up, the tempting-ness of these offers become less seductive because I have the ability to look at the price and at my bank balance. Unlike any of my children.

So normally the picture looks something like this: with one arm I’m trying to wrestle back the dog while with the other I’m shushing the children. Who, if there happens to be more than one of in the room at that time,  have entered into a full on battle of ‘What We Need More Of – Ice Cream or Cake’ otherwise known as the S’cream Cake Wars.

And then, after all that, there’s the freezer to contend with. It’s always almost full when the frozen food salesperson arrives. Either because I’ve been on a soup making mission or because my husband has thoughtfully been shopping just the day before and filled it with frozen pizzas. No, he never knows when the frozen food salesperson is coming either.

I always buy way too much and end up emptying the ice cube tray and stuffing the kids with ice cream before dinner in order to fit in yet another fish finger.

So you get the usual picture.

The woman arrives. I battle and spend. My husband emails me because the bank suspects fraud as his wife has spent so much on the debit card again. The dog pines and sometimes escapes when the poor saleswoman accidentally leaves the front door ajar. And she returns, red-faced and panting, “Sorry, your dog is now running around the sports field again. Oh, and here’s your tuna fish pizza.” And not one single child is satisfied with what I bought.

Instead they are bickering.

Again.

While I am re-rearranging the freezer.

But today it was different.

Today, a man came to the door and as soon as I saw him I knew that I knew him from somewhere, but I couldn’t quite figure out where…

That’s because I have absolutely no skill at all when it comes to the competency of facial recognition. Seriously, I once watched a film with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in it. Half way through I was completely confused and I had to interrupt my husband’s viewing pleasure and interrogate him about it. It turns out, I couldn’t tell the difference between these two main characters and thought they were both playing the same role. My husband was significantly horrified and has teased me about it ever since (hence I now remember the two actors’ names).

The man standing at the door was clearly a frozen foods salesman as he had parked his van right in front of my house. So I greeted him, but I told him not to enter as I had one sick and germy kid lolling around on the couch.

He didn’t try to come in. But he told me several times that he would like to sit down at the table with me to do the order. I had to say “No” very clearly, three or four times, before he would finally back down. I explained to him it was for his own good health but I could tell he wasn’t at all pleased.

I felt that instinctive unsafe feeling that, since I read the article, I’ve started to think that every woman knows.

And then I remembered, that’s how I knew this man. He’d been a substitute salesperson for the frozen food company once before. And I’d had the very same uncomfortable, unsafe feeling then.

He didn’t raise his voice, or push the door. And he didn’t lay a finger on me, but I felt threatened by his tone and his body language. He was very forceful in his sales technique. He didn’t smile. He slammed the doors of his van stormily, one after another.

I felt unsafe. On my own doorstep. So much so that I thought about calling the company and telling them not to send that particular salesman to my door again.

♦♦♦♦

That article jumped into my mind yet again.

I am a woman and I live regularly on my guard.

I am a woman and time and time again I feel unsafe. Or taken advantage of or disrespected.

And I don’t say anything.

I just ignore it.

I thought it was normal.

And it may be that it happens a lot. But that is wrong.

I owe it to my daughters to talk about it.

We all do.

So, I’ll start the ball rolling. Feel free to join in in the comments section.

It is not acceptable to think that all that should be important for me is pleasing men and having their children.

It is not acceptable to pat my bottom.

It is not acceptable to pay me less.

It is not acceptable to say that all my problems will be solved if I look pretty.

It is not acceptable to have a go at me for feeding my child.

It is not acceptable to use your strength to make me feel afraid.

It is not acceptable to not stop when I say no.

 

Tweeting for God


It strikes me that watching the images of the earthquake in Japan and the following tsunami affecting people all over the pacific region, that I feel helpless.

Twitter is full of well-wishing tweets and prayers. And I would truly and genuinely add my prayers if I believed they would in any way help. But in all honesty, I don’t.

If I actually believed in a God that could intervene in the control of these natural disasters, then at this moment in time, I would be facing the question, why did he/she let it happen at all?

Now I’ve heard many an argument from religious people saying that disasters and catastrophes are brought on by us humans. That God has no control. Or will not intervene. So then, what’s the point in praying to him/her?

I am baffled by religion. Very little makes sense to me. But at the same time I would love to have belief. A belief in a safe passage for my children, my husband, myself and of course, all of the other people that I love.

And I would love to beg or pray for help for the Japanese. For those in New Zealand. For the people of Libya (I know the situation there is not a natural disaster, but I would pray for interference anyway).

And for that help to actually arrive.

Sitting here on the safety of my sofa, I feel useless. I feel sad. It seems to me that we are empowered with endless streams of information. But all we can actually do is read it. Listen to it. And feel it.

To the rest of the world,

Please know that when we watch your plights unfold on television or read your troubles in the news, we feel concern. When we look through our twitter feed we are pleased to learn that someone someone else knows, is safe.

I know it’s not just me. Or there would not be such generosity for comic relief,  and Sir Bob would have remained just ‘Bob’. And the hash tag of today would not have read #prayforjapan.

Many of us look on in our own private horror and disbelief and wish you well.

And it seems for the moment, that is all we can do. Sorry.

That and throw a few coins in a collection tin when it arrives.

Thinking of you,

Sarah

Feel free to sign, if you want to, in the comments below.

Update you can donate here:

http://www.shelterbox.org/

The Ultimate Question


Lori asked a question last night, at the dinner table, of all places. It is for me the ultimate question. Although I can answer it quite easily.

Lori asked:

“What would you do if you found out you only had a few days left to live?”

Her own answer, “I’d do something for the environment, leave something good behind.”

Lori you make me proud. And I know that you will go on to make me even more proud. I trust you. I believe in you and I always will.

Here is my answer, an emotional one for me, which is why I didn’t say anything last night.

Dearest Lori,

If I discovered I only had days left to live I would cherish and organise the last days of my life.

I would spend every waking moment with those I love. My children and my husband. I would give you time individually and together. I would hug you all, stroke you and hold you close. I would breathe in your smell. Imprint your smile and your laughter. I would wipe away your tears.

I would tell you how much I love you at least a thousand times.

I would give you little tips of advice. I would brush your hair. I would ask you to sing for me, again and again, ‘Just one last time’.

I would make an all important phone call, Lori. To your dad in Scotland. I would beg him to accept my wish. That you all stay together here in Germany with Papa. Where you’ve all made your lives. And are happy and safe.

I wouldn’t let Papa go to work. I’d keep him by my side. And I’d show him how much I love him. And wish he’d have a happy rest of a life.

I’d spend times with my most loved friends. And ask them to watch over you all in my absence. And between them, do the job I should have done.

And I’d write. For you and for me.

And that’s it. There’s no where I’d want to visit. Nothing new I’d like to try to eat. No record I’d like to beat.

But your question made me think even more.

Death is a huge problem I just can’t get around. It’s something I can’t beat. No matter what I do, it looms.

Most people, Lori do not have those last days to say, “Goodbye.” Most people do not know they are about to die.

My daddy died when I was seven. It left me with a wounded heart. No one ever really talked to me about it. Someone told me not to cry in front of my mother, because I’d only upset her. So I cried alone, lest I upset anybody. My mum never really mentioned him again. It was like one day he was there and the next he was gone.

He died on March 13th 1980. So almost 31 whole years ago. But I still miss him and wonder what would have been.

As a child I often ‘imagined’ his presence. Strange things happened and I attributed those events to him. I thought he was playing with me. Perhaps I created those happenings myself, perhaps he was there. I don’t know – but it doesn’t matter because it pulled me through that awful time.

The first Christmas after he passed, I tried to send him a Christmas card. On the envelope I wrote, “To Daddy, C/o God, In Heaven”. My mother caught me trying to post it (without a stamp) and took it away and wept.

My hope and wish is that I live to see all of my children grow up. To see them enter their adult lives and be there when they have their own children. Offer support and take part in my babysitting duties. I plan to live for a long time and to enjoy my life. But sometimes plans do not go accordingly.

And your question made me think of all the ‘what ifs’ that haunt me and I thought that it is now time to put those ‘what ifs’ to rest. To let go of the panic of leaving my children behind without a goodbye. By writing my goodbye now. So it’s there. And always will be.

Dear Joni, Lori, Aden and Akasha,

It is my time
I’ve had to go
I will no longer say ‘Hello’.

In the meantime
There are a few things
You four should know

I’ve tried to teach you as well as I can
The lessons in life important for man

The first is love
Is true and real
Never be afraid
To show how you feel

The second is laughter
Heals the pain
Lightens your heart
And keeps you sane

The third is learning
Listen and read
Then apply what you’ve learned
Through all your deeds

Next comes instinct
Hone this skill
Do not just listen
To your own will

Five is adventure
Take a chance!
Life is short and will impose its stress
Take a deep breath
And enter…
The wilderness

Discover your passions
Assess your goals
Question your intentions

Run through the snow!

Naked, if it rocks your boat 😉

Take a moment
Before you decide
From your decisions
You cannot hide

Failure is a test
You will not always know
What’s best –
So
Pick yourself up
Dust yourself down
Try once again
With some experience now.

Take care on your journey
Watch out for each other
Accept the sadness caused
By the death of your mother

Let the tears flow freely
Release the sadness
Inside
Until a calmness comes
Then look back on my life

All the happy moments
That we have shared
The fun
The laughter
The tips
The advice

Remember back
But look forward
To the challenges of your lives
Although I may not be with you in person
I still survive

You have my hair
And you all have my nose
Which of you has my extra long toe?
You have my humour
You my passion for food
You own my voice
You, my sense of rejoice.

I am in your heart
You carry me around
When you cut yourself
It’s my blood that runs out

And watch out:
Every once in a while
Perhaps in your children
You’ll catch a glimpse of my smile!

All of my love,
Mama

My ADHD son and me


We had a fight.

I mean a full on shout your head off fight.

One of those fights where the words come screaming out of your mouth with no momentary lapse for thought or reasoning. Those words, which can never again be unspoken. But can only beg to be forgiven.

Yep. One of those types of fights.

My ten-year old ADHD son and me.

The trigger was small.

Just an everyday action from a boy who acts from his impulses and heeds nothing of the STOP, THINK, DECIDE ritual we’ve tried to impose on him.

And in an instant, with no warning to either of us: I snapped.

I saw red. I pinged across the room like an over-wound elastic band. I erupted like a volcano.

I’d had enough.

Enough of the constant lying.

Enough of the not trying.

The stealing.

Enough of the constant frustration felt by his sisters.

Enough of the manic outbursts.

The apparent lack of conscience.

Enough of hearing my own voice repeating the same instruction over and over again.

Which in itself is different to the not listening. Which is overbearing too.

Enough of the not caring.

Enough of the constant need for attention. And motivation.

Enough of my constant unfair division of time between four children.

Enough of having to apologise for him or to explain.

Enough of the looks. From both those who don’t know me and those who do.

Enough of the unhelpful, condescending advice from clueless busybodies.

But most of all I’d had enough of the fear. The fear I have every time I pick up the phone when he’s not by side. That’s he’s done something stupid. Hurt himself again. That he’s lying somewhere in pain. Or even worse. That he’s dead.

So I shouted.

He laughed in my face and didn’t care because he didn’t know. He didn’t know just how close to the edge I felt in that moment and he pushed just that little bit more. And I cracked.

And the words rolled off my tongue, so fast, and I couldn’t take them back, not even an instant after they were said.

“Go and live with your father! I’ve had enough!”

Shock smothered the room.

He looked at me, still laughing slightly and I ordered him to leave the room and pack.

Then the rest of us sat at the table, everyone silent, feeling the anger hanging in the room.

No-one knew what to do, including me.

Where the anger slowly left, the tears quickly began.

I breathed.

I climbed the stairs to see my one and only son, who after two short minutes of initial upset, had raced on to his next emotion.

Excitement.

Nothing I could say would sway him, from my sorrys to my sadness. His determination despite a prospective change in land, language, and school knocked me.

And for a brief moment, I started to consider the alternative. Being a mother who lived without her son.

I could see calmness and structure, harmony and rejuvenation but most of all I could see time. Time for me. Time for the sisters. Time to breath.

And then I felt the pain wash over me. The devastation of living without him cut deep into my heart.

I tried to see the whole picture. I thought of the girls and their needs. I looked at my son’s happy face. I saw the exhaustion in my husband, who is not his biological dad.

I sort opinions and I discussed until my throat hurt and my ears refused to listen any more.

I looked at my son and he smiled back at me. The argument gone. To him, it seemed the row had never existed, for me it felt like I would be devoured by the guilt and the shame.

My little boy who I’ve protected and fought for doesn’t want me. He wants his daddy. The daddy that he lost in the divorce. The daddy who lets you play computer until three in the morning. The daddy who lets you sledge down the stairs. The daddy who asks you if you want to go to school. The daddy that my children have not been allowed to see in two and a half years in another protective move from me.

You see, my ten-year old sons father also has ADHD.

And what I have discovered is that no matter how much I want it, or push it or encourage it, I cannot make my ex-husband, the creative genius that I once loved, take any kind of responsibility for his children in any way.

Daddy did not call at Christmas. He did not even send a card.

I called him myself, after the argument. I wanted to test the waters. I wanted to see if he could maybe, possibly live up to what my son needs him to be. He promised to call the next day. Several days later, we’ve still heard nothing.

He has not actually spoken to any of his children since October.

Last night I talked with my husband well into the night and he re-motivated me.

We had a fight. And I lost it. I am an emotional person and that happens sometimes. But that emotionality is what makes me me. My son is staying put. He is safer here. And he has the good fortune to have three lovely sisters, a mum and a non-biological but actually a proper father, to love him and try to guide him. And that’s all we can do.

I just have to convince him that the grass is not greener on the other side of the water.

Parental angst


This is an article I wrote back in May, but I held back on posting for a while because it left me feeling quite emotional at the time:

I can’t sleep.

A fellow parent contacted me today and informed me that two children in a nearby village were approached by a car driver. He attempted to abduct them.

After some research, I discovered the information to be true. Two attempts have been made, I understand, in two different neighbouring villages. Both children were young boys, the latter one aged 10, just a month older than my own son.

The police have warned that parents should talk to their children.

I have yet again explained to mine not to go in the car of a stranger. I have made clear the very real danger. The proximity of it all. And I do not doubt, not for a single minute that my children would willingly enter the vehicle of another. They are well-informed. They understand the threat. But what about unwillingly?

I hold my hand up and freely shout out loud, that I am really, truly afraid for my children. It’s something that I live with every moment of every day, unsettling me under the surface.

It started the moment I learned of my pregnancy of my first-born, Joni. A protectiveness. .

The first moment I held her in my arms, I fell head over heels in love, in a way I guess only another parent will understand. The bond was instinctive and immediate.

I remember visiting an acquaintance shortly before the birth. I could hear her two small children breathing loudly on the monitor as they slept. However, my little girl slept soundlessly. For six hospital nights, I couldn’t sleep. I had to lie her in my bed and poke her constantly to check she was still alive.

Simultaneously, I felt this intense love and yet this enormous responsibility. An absolute joy and a terrible fear.

I remember wondering, in my second pregnancy, how on earth I would be able to cope with this mass of emotion; times two. I wondered if, I would at some point explode from the sheer strain of it all. But the truth of the matter is this: I adored my second child, but felt more secure. I realized, that I had managed to keep alive the original model for three whole years and she seemed happy enough. I noticed that some of the ‘important things’ were not, in fact, so important the second time round.

I started to relax as a mum and actually really enjoy myself.

In general, they were both always with me so I learned how to look after them. Of course, sometimes things went wrong, but nothing really dangerous. I had bouts of angst. I guess every parent does. For example; I panicked letting my eldest go swimming with a good friend. The pool didn’t concern me. The car drive there became my focus. So in Joni’s jacket pocket I hid her contact details. Nothing ever happened. But it gave me the strength to let her go, in the knowledge that in the event of an accident, the police would know how to contact me.

The years have gone by and I have had two further children. They are all growing up, the eldest is almost 15 and the youngest now 4. But my situation has now dramatically changed. My anxiousness over my children is beating against me at full force.

Instead of being more relaxed by having more children, I am constantly trying to calm myself down and figure out solutions to what on the surface appear to be dangerous situations. I feel like someone gave me a basket of marbles and I dropped them. I am frantically trying to pick them all up. But they are all going in different directions and I can’t be saving the one from going under the bookcase, and the other one from rolling under the cooker at the same time. I must choose one direction.

I feel pulled. One wants to go into town and meet friends. Then another asks to stay overnight at a birthday party, with not only a child I have never met, but also parents who I don’t even know the names of. And those are the normal things. Not including the impulsiveness of a son with ADHD. Or the energetic and very independent three-year old.

I have become a statistician and spend my days’ weighing up the odds’.

This evenings calculation is: Should Aden be allowed to walk to school or should I drive him? There are arguments, of course, for and against. For: he needs the exercise for his good health but also for his hyperactivity; he would concentrate better in class; he enjoys the walk to school; I would have more time, to take Akasha to Kindergarten. Against, there’s only one: he could be bundled into a car and harmed.

Now maybe you’re thinking at this point, that I’m one of those over mothering, crazy women. That I have no real sense of reality. Perhaps you’re right. Potentially you are stunned, you see me now as a neglectful mother, who should of course, take her child to school tomorrow, with such given knowledge, as should every other good mother within a 200 km circumference. And you are entitled to your opinion. But I will base my decision as I always do. On risk.

Firstly, my son must walk almost 2km each way to school. That information in itself poses for me no great threat, well I guess only that at the furthest point away, he is rather far from home, but then, on the other hand, he is near to school. The issue for me is not truly the distance, but the way. After leaving our street the next few hundred meters he walks, although on the main road, has no houses  on his side at all. It’s a picturesque walk, and cars frequently pass, but in my mind it provides a risk. The next point of huge importance, is he’d walk alone. 2 points to risk then. Next comes the likeliness of the driver coming to our village and picking my son. Well, obviously, boys in his age group are his target. But why would he pick our village? OK we’re not far away, maybe 15 minutes, but I would guess ours is a busier village. And another important point both boys were approached in the early evening. And Aden is finished school by lunch time. Of course, the driver could change his tactics…

Before I sat here at my computer I’d already decided to drive him. The lonely way did it. I figured that he could run if someone approached him, but where to?

But the problem for me is much larger. I have lost my sense of trust in Aden’s school way. Although I walked it with him for practically two years. Every day. Showing him every nook and cranny. Making sure he knew every single crossing point. Until he could walk it backwards without bumping into a tree. I watched him again and again show me how to cross a road. He knows his way around every obstacle.

Perhaps next week the police will catch the man in the white car. But what about the man in the black car? The one we don’t know about?

This is not the sort of person I want to be. It is not the sort of parent I want to be. I want my children to experience life and love it. I want them to be thrilled and challenged. Excited and engaged. Not afraid.

We live in a world where fear absorbs us.

I want to be rational, confident and free.

And here lies the massive problem for me: I cannot ignore the evidence.

And the evidence is thus: there are bad people in the world, bad things do happen. Sadly. And everywhere I look I learn of terrible things. I don’t mean in the media. I can look at that and say, “that, that happened to someone else.” But I hear from my friends or I know from my own experience. In the last year, two of my young contacts have been approached by pedophiles on the Internet. Not one but two. Two years ago my own daughter was followed in a local department store, luckily I was myself in the store but even then he followed both of us. These events are the tip of the iceberg, certainly in what I know of my own friends and family experiences.

My objective is not to scaremonger. Not at all. I want to be clear and honest. Nowadays we hear talk of helicopter parenting and all the negativity of not allowing children out to play. They tell us life is not more dangerous than it was 50 years ago. But think on this: our parents saw many children die. My own mother’s brother drowned as a very young boy. I think it’s true that we’re more informed which makes us more afraid. But I think it’s also fair to say without our fear and therefore our vigilance, more children would be at risk today.

Something that happened to me:

Standing at the bus stop on a lonely road near my house, (when I lived in Cumbria). Many years ago, aged around 12, a man paused his car alongside me and asked me if I’d like a lift. It was raining heavily. He offered to take me to school. I politely declined his request but then in a menacing voice, he ordered me into his car. I got lucky as my bus appeared in the next moments at the top of the hill and he backed down. He slid off in the rain. As I watched his car leave the scene, I knew that that man had meant me harm. Disturbed, I told the school teacher, who informed the police.

I was lucky, but that man had intent. Did he find another victim?

I am the only one at home…


I venture gingerly into the bath. I have made a resolve that today is the day. I will corrode away the paste that I am continually applying to my blisters. It must be done. I look at present, like I have a paper mache blob, evolving at the heart of my bosom. Poking at it is, for me, a nauseating thought. Hence, my reluctance.

I convince myself of relaxation. Top the bath up with bubbles. Look out of the window on this horrid rainy day. And imagine warmth.

In the water it’s not so bad. It doesn’t hurt. I try swishing water over, but only the last application ebbs away. Out with the flannel. Time to rub. Looks a bit red. Unfortunately, the paste appears to have developed its own love affair with my skin. Or perhaps with the blisters? Anyway, it will not budge.

There’s a door slamming. Aha, I left the bedroom window open and evidently the door too. That’s ok. I can reason it out. So everything is right in my world.

What if I chisel it? Is it possible to chisel with a soggy face cloth?

Far off I hear a strange noise. I can’t place it. I begin to feel slightly unnerved. I listen quietly for further sounds. And replay my inner tape recorder. What was that sound? I try to think of rational explanations. But I’m not really finding any. I listen and listen, but can hear nothing.

Stupid. What a nonsense. I’ll be loud. Then, if there is someone, an optimistic burglar perhaps, I’ll be notifying him of my presence. Scare him off. He’ll run away.

Of course, it’s a he. ‘The bad man’. I guess it comes from when I was a child. That stereotype. Men are bad. Ladies are good.

If you’re lost and scared, what do you do? …That’s right, go and look for a nice lady… She will help you… Unless you see a policeman… In the hierarchy of goodness, a policeman is the best. He’s A++… Yes, or a policewoman… A policeman or a policewoman is the best, yes… They will help you… But if you don’t see a police person, then look for a lady… If there aren’t any ladies?… No, no don’t go to a man. Men are evil. Shout very loud to get the attention of a good lady and if that doesn’t work: run like hell!

So, in my moment of trauma now, I am victim of a man. He’s downstairs. Snatching our computer. Ripping the screen off the wall. Wrenching at our projector. Silently. Well almost.

My defence? Splash around in the bath making a noise. He’ll realise his mistake. Drop everything and run as fast as he can out the door. His departure will be so rushed, he’ll leave the door swinging open in the wind. Perhaps there’ll be another slam.

I have heard no-one leave the house. I continue splashing but it could be that he’s still here. I pause and listen intently. There’s a booming noise and then I realise it’s my own heart beating, exasperated by the drama and heat of the water. For goodness sake. Am I so unused to being alone that I’ve forgotten just how to be by myself? My imagination is overwrought. I’m starting to remind myself of my 14-year-old daughter.

Silly me. Calm down. And you wonder why you have shingles now? No doubt all the worry you put yourself through. Would you just take a look at yourself. Pull yourself together.

Then quietly, in the background, I hear it.

Whistling.

A very tiny whistle. I’m straining my ears now.  No. Nothing more.

Oh my God. It’s a murderer. A whistling murderer. He’s enjoying himself. Preparing… For my imminent demise. I won’t stand a chance. He’ll strangle me. I imagine my body making its last protest kicks in the bath. He’ll slash me even after I’m dead and the family will return home to a bloodbath.

I think of protection. Of course, I would be naked, wouldn’t I? My exposure making me feel even more vulnerable. Should I dress? But that would entail sneaking into the bedroom. To be honest, being naked is a more inviting option than leaving the room right now. I need a plan. I look ahead at the taps shiny surface. It’s like a mirror. I can see the door and the handle. I have an early warning mechanism. Ok: weapons. On the windowsill, there’s mould remover. Aim for the eyes. The shower over the bath. Yes, I could turn it to maximum heat and scald him. The vermin. A wet floor, yes, he’ll slip and bang his head.

Wait a minute. What if it’s Rei? What if he missed the bus? Or just came home for some reason? I might blind him or boil him. Scar him for life. But wouldn’t he call out? Wouldn’t he expect me to be shocked?

A new plan. I arise from the bath. Wrap my naked body in a protective towel. Open the door and peer out tentatively onto the empty landing. Then I shout, “Rei…?” “Rei…?” Repeatedly. Maybe the burglar/whistler/murderer will be warned off. Another man in the house… He’ll make a sharp exit. If it is Rei, he’ll answer for sure. And I can tell him, I almost showered him to death.

No answer.

Maybe Reini’s lying dead on the sofa already.

Then I know my fantasy has gone too far. After all, Reini isn’t even here. I’m alone. That’s why I’m scared. Aden’s voice in my head says,”You dummy!”.

I turn. Ready to slope back into my bath. I am a fool. However, something catches my eye. Nail scissors. Aha. An idea. I route around in the drawer and then produce the hairdressing scissors. Thin and sharp. They’ll do.

Back to my bath. Splash. No noises. I sink down and rinse the shampoo finally out of my hair. Then shower it off with my dangerous shower tool. Look at the soaking floor. He would never manage to stay upright in here anyway. Far too slippery.

I finish my bath pretty pronto and head into the bedroom. Being careful to shut the door behind me. Scissors in hand.

I unwrap the towel from my head and I listen.

Whistling.

Quite loud now.

Birdsong.

Winter was far too long this year. Evidently.