Friday, 25 March 2016

The Death Mother

This is the opening chapter of my new book - a story about the Gift of Death.  

Early morning, Tea Tree Lake, Mortlake, Victoria

Chapter 1

It was a dream that began it, not just the dream, but the feeling that went with it - the feeling of an enormous love and compassion. I held the poor, poor skinny old lady in my arms. I held her with love, and she felt no pain from all of the sore spots and all of the aches that go with an old, old body. She weighed nothing at all, and I held her so gently. She needed to die. She needed to leave the body that was only a burden for her. It had been so long since she'd been young and free. For years she had yearned for an end to the suffering. She wanted to endure no longer.
And I gave her that. That body in my arms, weightless, feeling no pain for the first time in years. And she died. I gave her that. She died, and I carefully put her back in her bed and covered her. She was finally gone, finally free, finally without pain. Love. Compassion. And I freed her.
I didn't lose that dream when I woke, though if there were details, they were lost. What led up to it, what happened afterwards - if those things had been part of that dream, they were not retained. Just the feeling of an overwhelming love and compassion. And then the poor old, old lady was finally free.
If there was a God, it was what He should be doing, not me, just a very ordinary, middle-aged lady. Grey-haired, a worn face, and my own beginning aches and pains, the sign of what was to come, the trials that old people endure every day. Most old people, in spite of those stories of old people lifting weights or running endurance events. Most of us are not like that. For most of use, old age is an endurance event.
I continued to think about it as I went about the morning routine, showering, dressing, making and eating breakfast, the same as on every other day. It was as I rinsed my coffee mug that the identity of that poor old woman came to me. It was old Mrs. Campion, Vera Campion. She'd been one of those I'd visited the day before, one of the sad residents of the Nursing Home that was only a short walk away. My husband had spent his last nine years there. He'd been only fifty when he'd had that stroke, two years older than myself. The children had come to see him, even Deb, who'd been in Italy. It had been the holiday she'd planned for years, but she hadn't hesitated to cut it short. But seeing their strong father so helpless, just lolling there in the reclining chair, often dribbling, unable to speak, not really knowing how much he could hear and understand - it was too much for them. They'd tried, but their visits quickly became fewer. And they lived so far away, Jenny busy with her little son, such a demanding tot...
But Kane was eighteen now, in his last year of school. Quicksilver, they called him. My only grandson - lithe, black-haired, filled with the arrogance of youth. I didn't see much of him. I bored him, and I knew it perfectly well. His father's parents were different. They had wealth, a big home in a big city, and money enough to spend on their family. They travelled a lot, and were happy to subsidise their son and his small family so that they could go with them. It was no wonder that Jenny and Renzo spent far more time with his parents than they did with me. Me, Shirley Bridgewater, who lived in a tiny country town, had no career and not even a husband. Not any more. Stan. He'd been gone seven years now, sixteen years since our lives together had come to an abrupt end. There had been no warning signs, he was not a smoker, not a heavy drinker...
But I switched off that line of thought. There were occasions when I'd have a quiet cry, privately, for myself. But I'd be a lot more lonely if I didn't socialise, and while I found playing Bingo an awful bore, I would not tell my friends that. Joy, Gwen, Maisie and Christine. None of them were close friends. I had no close friends. But life would be unbearable lived entirely alone, and I took care not to show that I sometimes found their chatter shallow and their pursuits less engrossing than they found them.
So I checked my watch and prepared to go out to play Bingo. We'd probably have lunch afterwards, maybe at the pub, maybe we'd try the new restaurant just opened, though their prices were a touch fierce for a country town. It would be interesting to see how long it lasted.

Tea Tree Lake, Mortlake, Victoria

 This story is not much like my previous books.  I know the general direction of the novel, but have not yet decided how it will end. And it really did begin with a dream - that dream, vividly remembered.  
The difference is that the fictional character finds that the ones she dreams of, really do die. 

It is far too soon to speak of a possible date of publication.

Look for my books on online booksellers such as Smashwords, The Book Depository and Amazon.

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