The Child

Today will be a longer post. I am putting up the first short story I
 have ever written. It is not perfect and not meant to be. My
 inspiration was a dream which I wrote about here. The story wouldn't
 leave me though, so I let it out.
 It is fiction. It does not represent anybody I know. It is based
 around a made up Irish Island. Enjoy and thanks for reading.

The Child

Cute but annoying.

Lets face it, anyone without them thinks that. It’s acceptable for a man to not want any, I think. Or is that just the way I feel because I am a woman? Any woman I meet, this conversation always crops up. You could be talking about how the bus driver is always late and then:

‘How old are you?’

Is there a way to not answer this question? It’s such a rude question. I cannot sort you into a category until you tell me your age. Get a life, lady.


‘There’s still time.’

That weird little smile and half nod they do. Every. Single. Woman.

‘For what?’

I will her to say something different. New. Interesting. Break the routine, lady. But no, always disappointed.

‘To have children of course. Do you have a boyfriend?’

Because the only reason you have a boyfriend is to make a baby. If you dare tell them you’re gay, they tell you, they don’t believe in that sort of thing. It’s a phase you will grow out of. Sure, thirty years ago there were no gay women. You need to find yourself a decent man, that’s all.

The child races down the jetty screaming in glee. Her mother, I assume, trails behind lugging all the equipment the little squirt needs.

I watch the child trip and launch herself into the air. Unfortunately it only happens in my head. Pushing myself away from the railing, I amble towards the front of the boat. Relaxing onto an empty bench, I’ll have to stand for the crossing once the boat starts to move: car sickness, sea sickness, travel sickness all the illnesses I must endure. Thankfully I no longer vomit but that could be because I rarely eat.

I feel the engines fire up beneath me. The rumble and vibrations flow through my body. Love the sensation. It’s like the concerts, you and I, used go to. Bodies entwined. The bass and drums surging through the crowd, from our toes to our hands held in salut towards the sky. Connected to every single person around us. Swaying to the flow.

The child runs past breaking my memory. I wipe the water from my face. Not tears. No more tears. We have left the port behind. No life jacket on the girl. Naturally she thinks she is invincible. The mother should know better. Am I the only one who sees all the possible disasters? Yes, I laugh, but when the laughter’s gone, there’s only tears. I’ve shed all the tears that my body holds. Only there’s more inside. I can feel them ebbing and flowing like the sea beneath me. I will not let them break through though.

‘Emily. Come up here where it is safer, darling.’

Good, about time the mother looked after the child. Watching her climb up to the top deck, the hair prickles on my neck. Someone is watching me.

Searching, I see an older man. Damn, eye contact. Recognition followed by pity sweeps across his features. He approaches.

No. The deck is crowded enough now: people with cameras laughing and smiling. I dodge around them making, for the back deck. Less people here. Maybe some peace.

Everyone wants to have their say. How terrible it all was. How it was nobody’s fault. No one was there but you and me. You stayed there. I never told anyone what happened, yet somehow it’s not my fault. People mean well, I know, but they end up screwing everything up. Keep your opinions to yourself. Let me be.

‘Hello, dear.’

Damn it. You stupid woman you forgot your earphones. Man, I ran away from you on what planet does that mean I want company? Watching the main-land grow small, I ignore him. Please leave me alone.

‘I’ve noticed you on this boat a lot. Do you go to visit the… where it happened?’

Stupid question. One visit to the island and you see all that it offers.

‘We were all shocked by what happened. I live here with my wife. Normally that happens on the main-land, not here.’

Yes, I know all this. Why on earth did you pick this spot? Chirst, everybody knows us now. I can’t come here without someone telling me how sorry they are.

‘Take this please.’

He shoves a piece of paper against my knuckles. It’s folded up. His hands shake like mine.

‘It’s my number and where I live on the island. If you ever need anything.’

I take the paper. He walks away. I don’t even know what he looks like, only his brown eyes. Stupid kind man. Why are they kind? Crunching the paper up, I go to throw it away. No. Don’t litter. Smoothing it out, I put it in my pocket.

My heart skips as the boat slows down. My week-long wait is nearly over. Everyone rushes to stand by the exit. Not leaving room for the crew to get the gangplank down. I hang back. No rush now that I’m nearly there. The child is squealing with excitement. The crew tell everyone that the boat will be leaving at four p.m.

Setting my alarm to three thirty, I set out to the cliffs, leaving the crowd to their tour guides. First time we came here it took forty minutes to get to the top, with plenty of breaks, for me to get my breath back. Twenty minutes now, with no breaks.

The locals have organised a watch up here. They don’t want it becoming a regular occurrence. They seem to understand that I am not going to follow you. That I need to be near you. There is a path in the grass now, to the spot. I settle down into the hollow.


Beep. Beep, beep.

Waking from my dream, it’s time to leave you for another week. Feeling stronger, I make my way down to the boat. Those few hours in our hollow are all I need to get through the week. Arriving at the boat as the last few travellers are boarding.

‘We were about to send out a search party.’ The crewman is smiling, but I know he’s serious. I don’t know his name and he cares about me. People are strange. All because of you.

The child is here, still no life jacket. Is that not illegal? Why do I care? Making my way to the back of the boat so I can watch the cliffs disappear. Always wishing I could ask you, were those last few seconds exhilarating or terrifying? I lost my heart and my voice when you jumped.

The child is no longer running around, more interested in all the hiding places on the boat. I watch her for several minutes; why is no one supervising her? I look for her mother, I climb part of the way to the top deck, there, flirting with someone. Returning to where I was, I look for the child. My stomach drops. Where did she go? She was right there. By the life boat. Maybe she is hiding. Something in the water catches my eye. Oh no. It’s her.

‘STOP THE BOAT’ I grab my throat in shock. First words I’ve uttered in eight months.

‘What?’ I point to the red blob bobbing in the water.


Stripping my jumper off I throw it onto the growing pile of my clothes on the deck. Hopping from one foot to the other to get my shoes off. If it wasn’t so serious I would laugh. Miscalculating the jump I belly-flop into the sea. The cold water explodes through my system. No time. Get to the child. Reaching the spot where she was. Damn it. Sticking my head under, I search for her red coat. There. Taking a breath I plunge after her. Swimming hard. Always just out of reach. Like someone is pulling her away from me. Lungs aching. My fingertips brush against hers. No more strength to push on. Her eyes open. A small bubble escapes her mouth. We are suspended.

Something brushes past me. I gasp and water flows into my mouth. Shit. That’s not good. Something tugs at my waist. Darkness.

Coughing. Choking. Gasping. I vomit sea water. My throat and lungs are on fire. Where is she? Hands push me down.

‘She didn’t make it.’

I stare at him disbelieving. Shaking my head. Not again: a foetus, a child, and you.


‘Gemma. Gemma, tell me about your girlfriend? What happened?’

‘My girlfriend is… was my life. She was older then me. Not that that matters but I suppose it did eventually.

We were celebrating our three year anniversary. We were to meet at a fancy restaurant, it was a treat. She… I’m her emergency contact number. The hospital rang me up, she had been beaten and raped.

I don’t know how they missed it. Usually they give you the morning after to insure it doesn’t happen. She was pregnant.

I didn’t think, I just reacted. How could anyone go through with the pregnancy? I booked flights to England, we had to get it aborted. The seed of that monster growing inside of my girlfriend. It was unthinkable.

She wanted to keep it.

I couldn’t understand. We fought. You can’t make a baby out of hate. What if the baby was a boy an ended up looking like him? How could she stomach to look at him?

I left for a bit, a week. We both needed the space, or maybe I just needed it. By the end, I knew what to do.

I told her that it was her decision and I would be by her side every step of the way. Her smile, proved that I had made the right choice.

We got busy getting ready for a baby. We moved to a three bedroom apartment. We bought the crib, high chair, clothes, and so many teddy bears. It was a beautiful time.

Then she miscarried.

She was inconsolable. She blamed it on me. Said the baby had felt my negative vibes. Told me I wasn’t loving enough. That it was all my fault. She wouldn’t believe me when I told her I was devastated too. Said I was making that up.

We had planned to go to the Island before she miscarried, we went there on a truce, no talking about the subject. She knew the Island, her grandparents used live there. We climbed to the top of the cliff and she showed me the hollow, where she used to go to when she was young.

We sat and talked there for hours. We ate a picnic. It was beautiful. I thought we’d make it, through whatever. We fell asleep together.

I woke up alone.

There was an envelope under her shoes by the cliff.

A letter inside.

It said, ‘Gemma, I’m so sorry, it was not your fault. I love you, Anna’

They never found her body. Part of me hopes she walked away, without her shoes.’

© 2015


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