This story is by Elizabeth McGrath and was part of our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It was the day after Mothers’ Day; one of the worst days of her life. Natasha lay in bed, staring vacantly out the window. The sky, grey and heavy, hung over the treetops, as crows perched on branches. It was the perfect reflection of herself. Her mind spiraling out of control, as the dreadful images of yesterday flashed repeatedly in her head. That and a dark desire, to cut her wrists. She envisaged taking a small kitchen knife to the middle of her wrist, slowly breaking the skin, to draw blood, watching as it flowed warmly down her arm. The image offered some relief, of the pain she had endured.
Her children were in their rooms, she could only assume were suffering too. Despite this, she could not get out of bed. All she could manage was a text, ‘u ok’. To which her 19 year old, ignored. The other replied, ‘yea’. She should be more attentive, but did not care for anything. Only to be dead.
Her husband had brought her two coffees in bed. He tried to talk to her, but she had no words for him. She just stared silently. A wave of guilt passed through her, for not providing the comfort her husband and children deserved. Natasha worried for them all, would they suffer with PTSD, as she once had? Would the trauma, scorn them for life? Would their Mothers’ Day forever be cursed? Could she be the wife, her husband truly deserved? She had no answers. As she lay worrying, she recalled how her 30s had been clouded, by a deep depression, seeping into every aspect of her life. It had taken 11 years to finally stop her anti-depressants. A mere two months ago, when she finally felt secure enough to do so. Fear begun to set in; fear of managing her emotions. How would she ride this emotional rollercoaster without medication?
Her eyes pained and swollen from all the crying; she felt haggard, like she’d aged a decade. She slowly sat up, rubbing her banging head, and sipped her coffee, listening to the world. She could hear next doors TV blaring, the hum of traffic, and birds singing outside. As the Earth continued to turn, Natasha’s life was on pause. She gulped her coffee and lay back down. ‘Please God’, she prayed silently. ‘Don’t let me go back to that place. Give me the strength I need’. Natasha felt, hypocritical, for she had not been to church in months. She thought about it every week. Now, the only place she truly wanted to be. One of the few places, she felt at peace.
Natasha lay paralysed in her bed, scared of how she felt. She recognised the heaviness. Her body tied down, in weighted chains. She wished to feel light again and reminisced a time before her 30s, when she felt, full of life and vitality. She longed for those days. She thought, ‘it would be easier, to end it all.’ It wasn’t the first time she felt this way. She had once attempted to kill herself, but fortunately failed. Her life, had since evolved happily, with two beautiful children, and a husband she adored. She knew she would never act upon her thoughts. But in this dreadful moment, it didn’t stop her from wishing.
Natasha lay silently. She’d told her youngest son, she would collect his girlfriend after school; knowing he would need comforting. Beginning to regret her decision, she would somehow have to find the energy to leave her bed. She had been mute since it happened. She thought, ‘life would be easier if she were alone’. For with no love, there could be no pain. Right now, she wanted to be alone. Fantasising about running away and being pain free.
Natasha had not eaten for a while, for she felt sick to her core. ‘Did everyone feel the same?’ she pondered. She briefly worried about her children. Her eldest hadn’t spoke since she told him, he’d been present, but left and spent the night at a friends, before returning in the early hours. Her worries were disturbed by the sound of hoovering. She briefly, considered getting out of bed, before quickly laying back down. Natasha, gazed at the grey skies and treetops. When the mist lifts, and the sky breaks, that is when she would get out of bed. She believed it would be a sign from God. Believing God had a plan and everything in life were a lesson. She wondered, what lesson God was trying to teach her. Maybe, he was trying to show her, how strong she was, without medication. Natasha thought of her husband. He was her rock. For a moment there was a glimmer of hope, as the strength begun creeping, back into her legs.
The skies were breaking. Natasha watched, as bluetits perched delicately on treetops. Listening to the sound of wood pigeons cuckooing in the distance. As the mist began to lift, so did the heaviness. ‘A sure sign from God,’ she thought. Natasha sat up, feeling ever so slightly lighter. Time was a great healer, so she’d heard. Natasha listened to footsteps, coming up the stairs. The door opened slowly, it was her husband: he too was suffering. He was going out to meet a friend. He looked exhausted, eyes sunken, face saddened. Natasha smiled: his face always made her smile. She loved him, almost too much, and seeing him broken was hard. Another wave of guilt washed over her. How could she smile at such a terrible time. How dare she show signs of happiness. He looked so fragile, as he kissed her goodbye.
The door slammed and she watched the CCTV, as he drove slowly off the drive. Natasha made her way into the lounge and sat heavily on the sofa. As she scanned the room, she noticed Hugo’s toys, on top of the fireplace. A deep sadness filled her heart. She smiled, as she remembered the day Hugo chose Derek the Deer. Without his presence, there was an emptiness, a different energy. She sat, starring at Derek. Picturing Hugo’s little face, asleep in his bed she recalled how happy he had been; her little teddy bear. Hugo, or Prince Hugo the 2nd, as he was officially named, had given her family 8 years of happiness. Natasha’s eyes filled with tears of joy, as she remembered the good times. She smiled, and thanked God for bringing him into their life.
Her eldest son entered the room and asked if his friend could come over. Natasha thought how all family members sought comfort from outsiders, and wondered why she had not. She was interrupted, ‘I think I am going to get a tattoo of Hugo.’ ‘That’s a nice idea, ‘ she said, finally breaking her silence. He seemed better. As the skies began to break and the sun began to shine, Natasha felt lighter, the chains had been released from her body. She knew the love, Hugo had given her family, had been a gift from God. ‘Is it alright to keep his collar?’ ‘Of course it is’, she replied. In that moment when speaking to God, she knew the reason she did not seek comfort from outside. Natasha had God beside her, and in her heart. She felt the love and comfort, knowing God would forever be there, guiding and giving her strength. Not forgetting of course, God had a plan, which included lessons to be learnt. Her worst Mothers’ Day had showed her, she was strong enough, to selflessly make the decision to say goodbye: to stop Hugo’s pain and suffering. Strong enough, to tell her husband and children, their beloved Hugo was to be put to sleep.
That dreadful Mothers’ Day, Natasha, her husband and two children, made the journey to the vets, to say goodbye. Hugo had been her children’s best friend, the one who was happy to see them, and welcome them home from school: even when she wasn’t. As they waited in the consultation room, eyes flooding with tears: the vet placed Hugo on her husbands lap. As they smothered him with kisses, the vet injected him, and he slowly drifted off to a better place.
Days and weeks passed and life carried on. Natasha had been going to church every Sunday. She prayed to God to look after her beloved Hugo. Knowing he lived on, happily and pain free, offered some comfort. As Natasha sat in her summer house, the sun beaming through open doors. She watched her two dogs, Bella and Precious sunbathing on the lawn, as she listened to the birds singing, eyes closed, the sun’s warmth upon her face. Her heart filled with joy and happiness, as she remembered how Hugo loved to play in the garden. Despite the life lessons, God may have planned, Natasha knew in her heart, as long as she had people and animals in her life; her life would be worth living.
Leave a Reply