Holding On.....

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story about a young Irish girl and her child that she was forced to give up.

Submitted: April 21, 2010

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Submitted: April 21, 2010

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The warm sun settled on my face as my feet dangled in the relaxing water. I watched the ripples spread from the tips of my toes to way out in the middle of the crystal clear lake. The sun beamed down leaving a magical trail of glittering jewels dancing on the water surface. Leaning my head back I watched a single cloud float above me, its brilliant white a contrast to the sapphire blue sky. I closed my eyes basking in the beautiful day and sinking into the warm feeling of contentment that was spreading from the bottom of my stomach.
 
I listened to the sounds of the world around me, the wind softly whipping through the trees, the gentle sound of the water lapping against its banks. Turning my head to the right I watched a young family playing in the shallow pools at lake edge. The parents so obviously in love and doting over their small child. They giggled and splashed obviously enjoying the fresh summer day. Though they ran in different directions and back again there seemed to be an invisible bond around them, joining them, making them one. They were a perfect family unit.
 
I could hear people passing me by as they strolled in the sun. To them I was just some girl, some teenager resting on a hot day. But to me, in my head I was everything. I was the sky above, the earth below. The whole world moving inside me. I felt like nobody else really existed apart from me, that I was on my own. Not lonely, just alone. This thought was both empowering and terrifying.
 
Lost in my thoughts I sat for what seemed like hours until from behind I heard a small child calling for its mother. Looking over my shoulder I could see a girl about six or seven running in my direction her long wavy blonde hair flowing behind her. She was wearing a beautiful knee length dress and a huge smile on her face. I pushed myself up of the ground and watched as she neared.
 
She called out for her mother louder and louder with the hint of a smile in her voice. As she reached me she flung herself into my open arms. I hadn’t even realised I had been reaching out for her but what I did know was that my baby was where she belonged, She was home.
 
Brushing her ruffled hair back, I looked at her smiling face, eyes clenched tight, nestling into my stomach. I traced my fingers along her forehead, down her cheek and along her jaw line. Leaning down I placed a light kiss on her forehead and pulled her tighter to me. I breathed in, absorbing her smell. Fresh air, innocence and happiness.
 
She looked up at me opening her big sparkling blue eyes.
“I missed you Mammy, I was looking for you everywhere” Her voice was soft and full of emotion. Smiling I forced back a tear and nodded my head,
“I missed you too sweetheart, I’ve found you now and now you’re not going anywhere”.
Breaking away she slipped her hand into mine our fingers interlocking perfectly, her little hand protected by mine. Suddenly my feelings of being alone disappeared, I had my daughter and I was completed. This little girl depended on me and I knew that I would give the world for her, I would die for her.
Gripping her tightly we began to stroll along the edge of the lake. I kept looking down at her, smiling. Watching her look from side to side taking in with amazement the beautiful surroundings gave me an added appreciation of the specialness of the day. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes gave it its sparkle back.
She stopped and turned her head up to me, eyes squinting in the sunlight.
“Mammy, I love you” The simplicity of the statement stopped me in my tracks. She said it as if it were both the most natural and the most profound thing in the world to say. Then as if she had never spoken she continued along the path gazing out at the lake. I could feel my eyes swell once more. In that sentence she had given me every thing I ever wanted and she didn’t even realise it. The feeling that I had created this amazing person was like nothing I had ever felt before. I was awash with pride but most importantly unadulterated love for the small girl who was still clasping tightly to my hand.
 
A while later she decided that she was tired of walking and pulled me to the lakes bank were I sat and watched her play with anything she could find. Her amazement at the simplest things was wonderful to observe. She picked up small stones that littered the bank and brought them to me to show me the fantastic shapes and colours. She took of her tiny patent shoes and small frilly socks and waded into the water taking care not to wet her dress. She laughed as the water tickled her legs, cold and fresh. Coming out she sat beside me, I showed her how to make daisy chains with the surrounding flowers. Eventually as the day rolled on to evening and a chill crept into the air she snuggled into me. Protectively I wrapped my arm around her and pulled her close.
 
We watched the sun go down lying side by side on the grass. The sky was awash with colours, the clouds on fire. She asked me questions. The type of ones a small child asks their mother. And I answered her the way a mother would. She caught me staring at her and whispered two words.
“Thank you” they caught in my chest and I knew exactly what she was talking about. I felt a weight, one that I didn’t realise I still carried lift. Everything was going to be fine.
 
 I watched as she drifted of to sleep, her head resting on my chest, her hand still clutching mine. The moment was perfect and as I closed my eyes and succumbed to the heavy sleep that was pulling at my lids I realised that this was how my life was supposed to be.
 
I hadn’t even realised that she’d slipped her hand out of mine until I opened my eyes to see she wasn’t sitting beside me any more. Squinting into the distance I could just make out her small retreating body framed in the flower print dress. She was so far away already. She stopped on the edge of the horizon and turned to face me. Her beautiful little eyes locked with mine. They were sad but there was another emotion, contentment. I knew my little girl was going to be okay. A tiny tear began to form in my eye. I squeezed them shut and felt it roll down my hot flushed cheek. I opened them again just to watch it land on the crumpled photo I was holding. My surroundings had changed. I wasn’t by the lake any more. I was back. The cramped attic dormitory echoed with the other girls shouts as they got ready for another long days work. I wiped the tear off the photo. It was black and white and very faded but that didn’t change how special it was. I gazed at it in silence. My thoughts were broken by Maura’s harsh Dublin accent,
“C’mon Cat-leen, de nuns‘ll kill us if we don’t get down der now!” She shouted across the room. I looked up shocked and nodded. Standing up I took one last look at the photo. Kissing my baby girl I placed it under my pillow. The only way I could keep the memory safe, keep her safe. My baby girl that they’d forced me to give away all those years ago. She’d always be that small precious life to me until maybe one day I could meet her again. It was that thought that kept me going, made me dust down my horrible brown smock and follow the rest of the girls down to the laundry. Maura was right; they’d kill me if I was late.


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