A Guest Blog by Juliet Nubel
For the last few Sunday mornings, when Jenny’s Scribble Challenge email lands in my inbox after a short flight across the Atlantic Ocean, I have opened it and laughed.
What would I possibly have to write about A Mother’s Twisted Love when my own mother unquestionably loves every square inch of my body and soul? An hour later, after getting my shoes out of the cupboard under the stairs I had the creepy idea of a child being tied up and locked away.
Phobias? I don’t have any phobias, I boasted to the cats, the only ones who actually listen to me around here. Bang on cue, a wasp flew into the kitchen through the open door and my declaration flew out the window. I don’t just have a phobia of wasps, I have a debilitating and ferocious fear.
But when I opened the third week’s Scribble email I actually snorted in disbelief. A six word story with a twist? For heaven’s sake Jenny, we’re not miracle workers! But my brain doesn’t know that, so it got down to its current job of scrabbling around in the heaps of words living up there and it finally found something that I was happy with. As happy as an unknown, unconfident, part-time, baby writer can be: “Lovingly he held her head underwater.”
The fact that we were at that precise moment on holiday on the beautiful Italian island of Sicily, that there were two monstrous, sparkling swimming pools on the complex, edged by two sandy beaches, both lapped by the turquoise Mediterranean Sea, may have helped my hand a little.So that done and dusted, wiped around the edges (which doesn’t take long when there are only six words to wipe) I posted it and promptly forgot all about it, as we went off to play.
When we returned to our room much later that evening I found my pet iPad waiting patiently by the bed, proudly showing me a comment from Hugh’s Views and News in response to my entry.
“I wonder if he was doing it for goodness, rather than for evil?” he asked innocently.
And that, Hugh, is when you had me. How could I possibly not answer your question? A vague idea of why my character was doing this was swirling around when I put together the six words for the challenge. But you deserved a longer and better explanation. So my brain started its digging again. All the way back in the coach from a wonderful historical day trip, it poked around and pulled out words to string together to complete the story.
The result is below. It is for you Hugh, and for anyone else who may be interested in reading the follow-up to my one-liner. It is nothing like my usual chatty blog style but hey, I can wear a new hat if I want to.
And it is for you too, Jenny. You who, for some inexplicable reason, started following my blog one day, a couple of months ago. When I clicked on yours it was admiration at first sight. Thank you for inspiring me with your words and thank you for inciting me to write my own.
Lovingly He Held Her Head Underwater
His large, work-roughened hands shook hard, however, as he pushed down on her grey-tinged hair until the bubbles from her nose and mouth finally stopped rising. The flash of gold from his wedding band shining up through the ripples, reminded him of what he was actually doing – wilfully drowning his beautiful, beloved wife.
He would have preferred to see her eyes one last time instead of the back of her head, but he knew that if those clear, grey jewels had been looking up at him through the water he would never be able to go through with it. He would pull her out, gasping for breath, cover her with kisses and swear he had made the biggest mistake of his entire life.
Her eyes. They had melted his heart all those years ago and they still did. They seemed to change colour without warning, wavering between gold-flecked green and pale Caribbean blue. Sometimes when the weather was bad they turned to flint, reflecting the clouds racing overhead, the tiny gold specks changing to light silvery sparkles.
For almost a year now they had also betrayed her mood, becoming a dark, secretive hue he had never seen before. A colour he disliked and mistrusted. This sombre shade brought on by another man, surely. Someone she saw regularly who made her return home to him as flustered and perturbed as a teenage girl.
He had followed her one day when his doubts had gotten the better of him, and had watched her walking through a high, wooden door in the centre of town, using a code she must have been given for quick, easy access. The sight of her guilty step made vomit rise in his throat and hot tears run down his weathered cheeks.
And now she wanted to go. She had told him everything. Every last detail, every sordid secret she had held for months was now revealed in a bright, blinding light.
‘I will never accept!’ he had screamed at her, louder than ever before during the thousands of days they had spent together.
‘You must’, was all she replied, her pastel eyes now begging like a hungry pup.
For weeks he had tried to dissuade her. At times he used sweet, gentle cajoling. At others deep, unbridled anger. Neither worked, and slowly he realised that she really meant what she had said. She needed to go, desperate to be set free at last.
His decision finally came one night as he lay beside her in bed, his arms wrapped around her frail body like thick chains.
‘I have always respected your wishes’, he announced. ‘You can go now.’
The depth of gratitude in her tired smile broke his heart into a thousand pointed shards, each one piercing his body and soul as he inhaled her scent deeply to memorise it for the rest of his life.
‘Thank you, my love’ she answered, her cancer-ridden voice much quieter now than before. ‘And just promise me that even if I start to struggle, you will keep pushing down as hard as you possibly can.’
Did you know?
There’s still time to participate in the FINAL Scribble Challenge of the season! Head on over to #SSC 15 to submit your response to the prompt for your chance to win a guest blog here, on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins.