Yesterday as part of a Tell the Story Challenge, I wrote this story below:
I received some lovely feedback about it and a request that I write some more, so here goes:
Not long after starting my new school something happened to me, that is quite common apparently, but completely took me by surprise.
Growing up in my tight-knit little community on my island with the lighthouse, I couldn’t recall having even one day’s illness. A slight cold was all I’d had. The first term of school is often called the ‘sick term’ because putting all those children together usually leads to an outbreak of some disease or other.
I remember feeling a bit tired in class that day. I was slowly adjusting to the fact that I wasn’t at home, but staying in ‘digs’ in a strange town. Mrs McAllister was my landlady and had let out her attic room for me. She used to cook light meals like scotch broth and every morning would make me a bowl of steaming porridge. I’d grown up with my morning oats but Mrs McAllister made hers a bit differently. On the island, we had a lot of sheep, and we used their milk to make the porridge. Mrs McAllister made hers with water. It was the colour of wallpaper paste and I’m sure just as tasty, but it was hot and it filled my belly. I remember sitting in the classroom, wishing someone would open the window and watching the teacher parade up and down the room, slapping his hand with his ruler. Then, all of a sudden, the room went black.
When I came too, I was lying in my bed in the little attic room. I was sweaty and I ached all over, but particularly around my face and neck.
“Now, Dear, Don’t fret, The doctor brought you back from school and we managed to get you into bed.” Mrs McAllister said from the doorway.
“I’ve brought you a bit of broth. The doctor said you had mumps. I can’t come too near, as I’ve not had it myself and I have two wee bairns to look after. I’ll just leave the broth here.”
She placed the bowl down on the small table by my bed and then ran out of the door as if the germs were chasing her.
I remember laying there, feeling all swollen and puffy and staring out the window to catch a glimpse of the light from home.
I was supposed to be a big boy, going to big school, but right then, I wanted more than anything to be home. To have my Mother to look after me. To cuddle me in her strong Baker’s arms, the smell of the bakery on her clothes. To this day, the smells of a bakery is my favourite perfume.
I admit it, I cried. I lay in that lonely attic and sobbed my heart out. I must have managed to doze off because when I heard the door creaking open I awoke with a start.
The room was completely dark, except the light that came flooding in from the door, the silhouette of a figure standing there.
Then the light from the Lighthouse briefly provided a glimpse. It was my Mother, standing there, wrapped up in a shawl and carrying a basket on her arm.
“There, there, my wee Dougie. Rest now” as she said it, she gently pushed me back into bed and pulled the covers up around me. Her cool hand rested on my forehead and seemed to miraculously take some the pain away.
I don’t know how she knew I needed her, but I was so relieved to see her.
I remember thinking, she must love me so very much to come all that way from the island in the middle of the night.
It took a few days before my puffy neck returned to normal but she nursed me through and stayed with me until I was well enough to go back to school.
It’s strange looking back, what the brain chooses to remember and what it forgets. I can’t remember much from those early days but I’ll never forget the feeling of my Mother’s healing touch.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 13/February/2019