Archive for November 2011

For me the biggest fear in life is losing the ones I love and the objects I own. I love my life and want to protect it so it can remain as it is. However, I know that fire is something that could bring devastation to my life and ruin everything. At 29, I am a single parent of two beautiful daughters and my whole world revolves around them. I would literally die to save my children. But this built in protection is not always a good thing. My life has turned to a constant fight between my logical self (Lee) and my illogical self (Joe). ‘Did you really turn that stove off?’ Joe would nag away at me. ‘Of course you did, you starred at it for 5 minutes to make sure you had’ replies Lee. But, even the blatantly obvious proof of starring at the stove doesn’t satisfy Joe. ‘Ah but what if you accidently turned it on when you turned away’. ‘Of course you didn’t. You didn’t touch it.’ ‘But you may have done and just not noticed.’ ‘Of course you would have noticed. You would have felt it’, Lee desperately tries to reassure me. ‘Ah but you may have touched it, felt it and then forgot. You can’t trust yourself’, concludes Joe. And so it goes on until I give in and go back downstairs to check that the stove is off. Standing over the cooker, starring at the knobs like a hawk, I try and reassure myself that they are off. ‘You can’t spend all night down here in the kitchen’, Lee tells me. ‘Just a few more minutes to check that they are off.’ There is no way I am going to be able to tear myself away from this argument until I get that warm, satisfied feeling in my stomach that the stove is off. 10 minutes later and I finally get a nudge of that relieving feeling. Turning away fast before I lose it, I leave the kitchen and slog back upstairs to head to bed. But the arguments start up in my head again and a whirlwind of fear starts in my stomach and spreads through my body like wildfire. ‘What if Katie and Claire have stopped breathing?’ Joe asks me? ‘I am sure they are ok’, Lee replies, ‘you would have heard something if they weren’t’. ‘But they wouldn’t be able to tell you or move if something happened to them in their sleep. You best go in there and check on them.’ Creeping into their shared bedroom, I sneak across the room like a mouse so I don’t wake them. The gentle sound of Claire snoring reassures me that she is fine but there isn’t a peep coming from Katie. Gently I put my finger under her nose and sigh with relief as the reassuring wave of air touches my finger. Feeling satisfied for now, I creep back out of their room and head for mine, believing that I can finally get some sleep myself. But as I lay down in bed, the thoughts plague me again. Imagining what would happen if for some reason I hadn’t turned the stove off. The whole place would go up in flames, and I would lose everything. I have sat my girls down and given them strict instructions what to do if there is a fire. They are to open the window as wide as it will go, throw something soft on the ground, one story below, and then jump out. I trust that my girls know what to do, but what if they are hurt and they can’t jump out of the window? What if they were to forget in the heat of the moment what to do and try and come through the house? Worst of all, what if they don’t wake up and remain in their beds for the hungry fire to come and take them? ‘Stop it, you know they are safe. You are just worrying yourself’, Lee tells me as I turn over in the bed and pull the cold side of the pillow over my head. But, Joe isn’t giving in that easily. Next he teases me with images of my belongings and my beautiful house being engulfed by fire. The images flashing past my eyes seem so real that I just feel like crying. Bolting up right, I open my eyes. It’s no good, Joe has won again. I need to check the stove is off.


Derek was an up and coming layer and always dressed to impress. He always wore a black pin-striped suit with a pressed white shirt and a blue tie. He always made sure his hair was dyed auburn with the jar of hair dye that he kept right next to the sink. In his briefcase he carried around a pristine business card holder which was always stocked full of business cards, his brand new laptop and a jar of freshly sharpened pencils. But no one knew the heartbreak he was going through inside. Every evening he would stumble back through the door of his flat, carefully place his suit and briefcase in the cupboard and throw on his sweats before settling down on the sofa. In the lounge there were traces of what was once a happy life. There were square patches on the walls where photos had been that showed the original paint colour of rose white, the rest of the wall had faded to a dull colour. On the mantel piece there was a radio covered in dust and a poinsettia that had withered through lack of care. Why should he look after the stupid plant if there was no one there to share it with? Right next to the plant was a silver locket with the words “love forever” engraved on it. The shine on the locket had started to wear away and it too showed signs of neglect. Derek walked over to the mantel piece and grabbed the locket, “love forever, yeah sure?” he thought to himself and threw the locket back down.

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November 2011
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