Some times things happen at the right time, without any time to prepare. Some times, these things are exactly what is needed…
This is worth seeing – such an amazing journey and it still stays with me, on my mind frequently.
Katherine Brooks, ladies and gentlemen.
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome )
Standing at the bus stop, there’s a strange hue in the air that has her tilting her head and reaching up to clean her glasses. Glasses clean and hue still present, she wanders down the street with curious intent. Turning the corner, she is approached by a couple she recognises, a couple who have been long since gone. A friendly, knowing smile and a polite tip of a hat while he passes her a newspaper is their only greeting. She follows them with her eyes as they move by her and continue on down the street, her eyes only glancing down to the newspaper once they are out of sight.
“Tuesday 8thJuly 2008”
She stands motionless for several moments, blinking at the date. Her eyes move once more to the street in front of her, feet propelling her forward. Looking around and taking in the house in front of her, she comes to the conclusion that this is all just a vivid dream.
The house is in darkness as she stumbles in through the back door. Walking through the kitchen to push open the living room door, her head peaks around it, unsure of what she may be walking in to. The room is full of people, people she recognises. Her aunts, cousins and grandfather are all asleep on various chairs and sofas, in what looks to be the most uncomfortable positions. ’Oh’, she thinks, ‘I know why I’m here.’
Quietly walking through the living room, she hovers near the staircase. The red patterned carpet causes her to become sentimental and tears spring to her eyes. A hand is suddenly loosely around her wrist and she fights back a yelp of surprise, turning to see her grandfather’s bright eyes. “It’s okay”, she tells him, “It’s okay.” His hand leaves her wrist as he nods, a very slight incline granting her his permission to proceed. Her feet start to move her forwards, climbing the stairs much slower than she can ever recall climbing them.
As she enters into the bedroom, her eyes automatically glance to the mirror, startled eyes meet with the warm blue ones reflected back at her from across the room. Making her way into the room and turning to face the figure in the bed, she pauses. Her mind repeating the words she had not so long ago spoken to her grandfather. ‘It’s okay. It’s okay.’
“It’s okay,” the lady’s voice is light and hopeful, comforting in a way that has her feeling emotions she has long since forgotten the strength of. She moves forward, stepping into the light, slowly lowering herself onto the chair at the side of the bed.
She looks up, making eye contact with the lady, her Nanna. Eyes misty, she sees the deep intake of breath and the almost whispered words, “There you are.”
Sitting in the chair, hands in her lap, unsure of what to say in this situation. Wanting nothing more but to reach out and gather her Nanna into her arms, she instead sits motionless. Her Nanna lays there, swallowed up by the huge double bed, an all-knowing glint in her eyes as she smiles and tells her, “I’ve been waiting.” A frail hand reaches over to a pale sweaty one. As soon as contact is made, the tears start silently falling, “I…”.
Taking a deep breath, she starts again, “I got better. I fought hard and worked even harder and I did it.”
“Tell me, sweetheart.”
“I’m a social worker, Nan. I help people who are feeling like how I was feeling all those years.”
“And you’re okay?”
She smiles sadly, “I am…”
“…but? What is it, sweetheart?”
“Losing you. You took a part of me with you. I’m like a jigsaw with permanently missing pieces.”
“Sweetheart. There is nothing in this world that would make me leave you permanently. You’re my Sophie, our bond is much too strong, not even death itself could break it. I will always be with you, somehow. Please, know that.”
“I do know that. I feel it. I’ve always felt it.” She smiles with wet eyes, wanting nothing more than to stay, “I have to go now, don’t I?”
“You do. So do I soon.”
Bringing her hand to her lips, she leaves a kiss on her thin skin before leaning over to place a kiss on her forehead, “Nanny” her voice cracks, “I love you.”
“I love you too, poppet,” and with a final squeeze, she lets her hand go.
She rises, walks to the door, their eyes meeting once more in the mirror before she turns and heads back down the stairs. Her movements are quicker now, a little panicked as she can hear voices, her family are awake. Looking into the living room, she sees nothing but vacant space, the voices travelling through from the kitchen. Walking quickly, she aims to reach the front door without alerting anyone of her presence. As she steps outside and pulls the door shut, she notices a car pull up. Her feet start to move towards it, as though they have their own motivation. As the door opens, a young girl steps out, a terrified look in her eyes. They stand and look at one another for a few seconds, before she moves closer, lays one hand on her younger self’s shoulder before heading back down the street.
Walking back towards the bus stop, she sits down on the seat underneath the shelter. She places her head in her hands and takes a breath, energy suddenly drained. The feeling of another presence is sudden and startling, as she jerks her head up, she is met with stunningly familiar, bright blue eyes, “Mummy, what’s wrong?”
She smiles, content, “It’s okay. Are you ready to go?”
I was wanting to work on my tenses – and also on writing something that hurts… this is what happened (Part 2 of 2)
April was meant to be my ‘drink more water and cut down on chocolate’ month…
I started off relatively well, I was drinking more water than I have ever known myself drink. I also managed to cut down on my chocolate intake to 1 bar every other day instead of 2+ bars a day (small bars).
Then Easter break happened and I came back to my mum’s. The cupboards are full of treats and so much food that I have had to stuff myself full of it to make sure it gets eaten before it starts growing its own organisms.
I have not been drinking water, instead, I have just been drinking tea.
(Still not buying carbonated drinks though!)
I have had 3 small diet Pepsi’s since February and that has only been due to me socialising at the local bars/pubs.
However, surprisingly, what I have not had this month, (at all) is… crisps. Something I was eating 2 bags of a day most days. My cupboard at my mums is stocked with 2 big variety packs of crisps – they remain untouched. I guess this is what I am doing this month!
Now, what about next month?
The man in his mid 20’s is presented wearing a stiff white shirt with a bright blue necktie. He sits behind an oak wood desk, the paperwork covering it seems to be placed in even piles as a laptop has been placed to one side, idle.
The sound of a clock ticking in the otherwise silent room is piercing. The two occupants sit across from each other, sizing up who might be the first to speak.
“So, tell me about yourself?”
Curious eyes dart from the window to the eyes of the man behind the desk. There is a head tilt that suggests the man is being judged. Curious, dark eyes dropping to land on the file on the desk that reads: MILLS, Alexander.
“Shouldn’t you already know?”
“I’d like to hear it from you. In your own words, Alexander.”
“Alex.” Dark eyes revert back to the window, looking out at the view of the City.
“Okay. Alex. Do you want to tell me what brings you here to my office?” The man keeps his gaze on Alex, trying to gauge the boy’s reaction.
The following silence is heavy, weighing on the man’s shoulders. He sits in thought, wishing he had forgone the necktie – if only to not feel so constrained.
A buzzer sounds to mark the end of the hour, “same time next week, Alex?” the man says with a sigh. The only response is a lift of one shoulder, as Alex stands and leaves the room without a word.
The door opens, a woman with mousey hair wearing a warm cardigan leads in a boy of 17. He towers over her as he passes by and walks through the threshold. His posture straight, eyes determined he walks straight over to the armchair in the middle of the room.
“Good afternoon, Alex.”
“Doc,” Alex replies with a slight nod of the head.
“How have you been since we spoke last week?” The man asks with bated breath.
“That’s good to hear… what have you been up to since we last spoke?” he prompts.
Alex maintains eye contact as he sits there silently contemplating how much of a reply he wants to give. His eyes trailing to the Doctors collar and tie – it’s a dull red colour today.
“School.” Alex responds with a casual shrug, “that’s pretty much it.”
“You like school?”
“It’s alright. Same shit, different day. The teachers don’t care, why should I, right.” No hint in his voice that his statement is a question.
“What about your friends? You don’t see them outside of school?” The question is asked in such a way, it’s as though he is unsure of how it will be received.
Alex’s gaze shifts and drops to his shoes, “Not really.”
The door flies open, banging against the wall as it swings with surprising speed. With a startled jump and a raised head, the man looks up, speechless.
Alex stands in the threshold, face like thunder. He grabs the door and forces it shut, throwing himself in the chair opposite the desk.
“Alex? Is everything alright?” The doctor asks, head tilting to one side, unsure what may have caused such a reaction.
“Why do you do that? Why does everyone do that!? The sympathetic head tilt thing like you understand my life. You don’t even see me! No one sees me. I’m just a number to you, a special case, a “looked after child” whose mother can’t put the bottle down long enough to remember she has a kid.”
“What makes you think… Has something happened to make you think that?”
Alex looks up, eyes dark as he makes shaky eye contact. His lips form a tight line, the tension in his shoulders almost painful as he sits ramrod straight in the chair. Taking a breath to try and regain some composure, Alex returns his gaze to the window. Looking out at the City skyline he speaks, “I got a detention today because I didn’t do the homework and wouldn’t tell them why I didn’t have it.” He scoffs, “Detention. I’m 17, not 7.”
“Would you like to tell me why you didn’t do it? We haven’t discussed your new placement yet, have you settled in alright?”
“It’s loud and busy. Hard to concentrate on anything other than keeping out of people’s way. It’s fine. The best thing for me, right…” Another scoff.
“Alex, I want to start straight off from where we left things last week. I’d like you to tell me more about how you’re managing to settle in, in your new placement.”
“Like what? It’s not like if I say I don’t like it, there’s anywhere else for me to go.”
The man leans forward, hands clasped together over the desk, “Are you saying you don’t like it?”
Alex shrugs, “It isn’t home.” His eyes raise to meet the Doctor’s gaze before immediately dropping back down to his shoes.
“Last week, you acknowledged that where you are now is for the best. Do you believe that?”
“No. It wasn’t even that bad, we were fine. We were coping.”
“At home, you mean?”
“Yeah. We had issues but doesn’t every family?” Another shrug, “We had each other’s back. Now we’re both alone. They won’t let me see her. That isn’t the best thing for either of us.”
“Do you know why you aren’t able to see your mum, Alex?”
“She’s in rehab. Cold turkey, right. Treating us like I’m what she’s addicted to.”
“That may change, in time. Once she’s recovered. They might allow you to visit or to phone her. In time.”
“How long you been doing this, doc?”
The doctor flushes pink, clears his throat, “I graduated just over 6 months ago.”
Alex doesn’t answer, just sits contemplatively.
“How’s school been going?”
Alex shifts in the chair, “Fine.”
“Care to elaborate?”
“It’s fine. People mostly just leave me to get on with whatever. They don’t bother me.”
“Do you socialise with the other students?”
“They look at me weird. Like I’m damaged or like they might catch something just for being in the same room as me.”
“How does that make you feel?”
Alex looks up, an amused look on his face, lips curling up into a smirk, “Really? You’re going with that cliché?”
Once again, the doctors face turns pink. He laughs, embarrassed to be called up on using such a phrase.
Alex turns his head, observing the landscape. He has become drawn to the view, often getting lost in thought as he watches the clouds move.
“Invisible. It makes me feel invisible.”
The room holds a young man, in his late teens. He wears faded jeans with a short-sleeved shirt, band logo prominent. He sits in the chair that he has come to think of as ‘his’, a small smile on his face. Across from him is a young man, not all that much older, a white, crisp shirt tucked under a grey waistcoat, looking much more relaxed than previous weeks.
“They said I can speak to my mum in a couple of weeks,” Alex explains, smile growing into a grin.
“That’s good news, Alex. On the phone?”
“Yeah, they said she’ll be able to make a call to the group home and then I can talk to her.”
“I can see you’re happy about that.”
“Yeah. This group home won’t be forever. I’ll be 18 in a couple months. School will be over, finally and I can get my own place and when my mum comes home, I can see her again. I can help her.”
“One step at a time, Alex. She may be doing well right now, but it can be different once people try to return to ‘real life’. It might not be as straight forward as you want it to be. What do you want to do when you leave school?”
“I just need to get a job. Like labouring or something.”
“What about college or University?”
“Doc, I grew up in the worst neighbourhood and go to the worst school in our area. Kids like me, we don’t have the same opportunities that kids like you have. I just want a job and my own place. Then everything will be fine.” His gaze once again, only on the clouds.
If anything in the above causes offence or does not ring true, it was not intended. I do not know what it is like to be in any of these situations, this is fiction and something I have written to try and practice writing dialogue.
Take a breath,
Wear that dress, that top.
Change your shoes,
Put on those heels.
Straighten your posture,
Raise your head to look them in the eye.
Choose what you want,
Ignore the voices that tell you differently, that shame you.
Embrace your difference,
Choose to change what you aren’t comfortable with.
Make those changes.
Make those choices.
The only person’s opinion that matters
Blondie’s voice rises above the nearby chatter, “Just lick it off.”
She tilts her head, smiles shyly, “I’d rather just wash my hands, thanks.”
The table of people watches her go with amused, frustrated smiles on their faces.
“Some people just don’t like it. It’s like an OCD kind of thing… Is she OCD?” Asks the brunette.
“She’s never liked it.”
Heads turn sharply to where the voice drifted over from. The woman continues on, collecting their empty glasses as she speaks, “As a kid, she couldn’t stand it. The slightest thing on her fingers and she had to be taken to wash her hands. Everything would have to stop until her hands were clean… like she couldn’t focus on anything other than that.”
The elder speaks, “I didn’t realise you’d known her that long… or that you knew her at all, really…”
A smile, small and troubled flashes briefly before she leaves with the empties, a quiet, “Yeah” can only just be heard as she turns her back.
Hands now clean, she makes her way back to her chair, noticing everyone at the table is eyeing her.
The brunette asks, “Didn’t realise you knew Caroline..?”
She looks up, making brief eye contact. Her previous smile turning sad and troubled, “Yeah.”