Creative Writing, My Writing, writing

Stay Alive (Reprise)

Hi, Hey, Hello!

So I was a no show yesterday because I went and got a life which threw me slightly. One because it has left me convinced that today is Friday when in actual fact we are in the middle of the week and two because my life is so boring I always get thrown when I get actual plans (I should probably make that not the case sometime soon, but then…Netflix). So I’m playing catch up again, but I will for sure be finishing this thing up on Saturday, because it’s the last day of April and it will end then. I’m sure of it. And I also lied, I’m poaching again, well half poaching it wasn’t finished when I stumbled on it.

‘You changed the melody every time’

Hayden was restless for no evident reason all of a sudden. He had been fine as we drove to the store, happily slipping between a light sleep and complete wonder at the world flitting past the window. But the second I got him out of the car he wouldn’t settle.

This meant that I was navigating through Whole Foods one handed as I tried to keep him entertained. It wasn’t the easiest way to shop but, as with everything these days, it was manageable. He slipped in and out of sleep and drenched the bare skin of my chest with dribble when he wasn’t laughing to himself. He was a heavy, yet oddly comfortable weight attached to my side. Until he woke up properly and decided he was bored and wanted to play.

It started small, just lightly grabbing clumps of my fringe, that definitely needed trimming, and letting it fall back on my face. Then he started tugging. Yanking it down before he watched it twist back into a loose curl. He laughed every time. The few other people milling around in the aisles around me watched with that look that seems reserved for those times that you are looking at other people and their children, kind of a gentle ‘awwing’ with their eyes and soft smiles.

And then once the curls weren’t entertaining him enough he shifted his focus to a hole in my t-shirt. A small one, but one with a loose thread and therefore one that held a world of possibility for him.

So while I tried to juggle prising his fingers away from his new favourite thing and remember what kind of yoghurt Mia ate my world kind of narrowed and I zoned out. And then Hayden pulled too hard and leant too far back as my free hand finally grabbed the correct yoghurt and in that split second I knew how that was going to end. Me surrounded by yoghurt and an infant who would probably be asleep again in a few minutes acting like he hadn’t just made me the centre of attention. One of my worst fears in life. I prepared myself for it mentally in the split second before it would all play out.

But then a hand grabbed the yoghurt just as I let it go and pulled Hayden back into me, freeing his fingers from the thread of my t-shirt and making note of the fact that the small hole in it was no longer all that small.

Green eyes, dark hair.

Josh.

Of all the places in the whole of this city.

‘Good choice of yoghurt.’ He noted, looking at the tub in his hand.

‘My sister eats it. Devours it really. If she could eat it for all 3 meals of the day I imagine she would, but she also likes potatoes so that stops her from doing that. For dinner at least.’ I was rambling. Trying to distract from the fact that my t-shirt now had a gaping hole in it and a child was squirming away in my arms.

‘Your sister, she was the one sitting next to you the other day I assume?’ He was staring. At me, at Hayden, at the yoghurt, his gaze was shifting between my trolley and his basket with great intensity. Piercing green eyes, staring. I stuttered before I replied.

‘Yeah, that’s her.’ I nodded and shifted Hayden to try and settle him.

‘Teenager?’

’16. She’s really fun to be around sometimes.’ The joke fell flat to my own ears.

‘Rough.’

‘No, she’s the easy one actually. I get being a 16 year old girl. It’s the boys I’m worried about.’

‘Naturally I think the boys would be easier.’ He laughed, deep and gravelly.

‘I’ll trade you the yoghurt for Hayden.’ It was a joke. I meant it as a joke, but still for a split second I wanted him to take it seriously. I wanted anyone to just take him and leave me to shop for yoghurt in peace. Without having to worry about anything but myself. I wanted someone to allow me to be a selfish again.

But obviously he just smiled and gently dropped the yoghurt in with the rest of my groceries.

‘He looks pretty happy where he is.’ He gestured at Hayden who, naturally, was now sleeping soundly against me, a finger trapped in his mouth.

‘Yeah, that’s my cue to get him back home as quickly as I can.’

‘I’ll leave you to it. It was nice to see you again…’ He trailed off and I realised he still didn’t know my name. I’d forgotten that he was still a stranger.

‘Nix. My name is Nix.’ I supplied to avoid the silence between us becoming awkward.

‘Well, nice to see you again Nix.’

‘Yeah, you too Josh.’

I pretended not to notice that in the moments after walking from him I felt happier than I had in weeks. I also pretended not to notice that Mia noticed my change in mood when I got home too.

sign off 2


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