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Mornings After

By: daisycains on the 27th July 2010 at 2:30pm

Life - Short story

It would be wrong to say that TxxxxxY was my haven, I had some bad times there. I chose TxxxxxY, for my first ever holiday away with a boy. It was his first with a girl and off we went, without our parents, all grown-up or trying to be, to some unspeakable B&B on the road to the railway station.

I really tried to be grown-up, to be a confident young woman but I failed miserably on just about every score and most especially every breakfast time, which saw me cringing and purple with embarrassment in case the other diners had heard us the night before. My embarrassment was worse because he was enjoying it, he was enjoying my discomfort and enjoying the information my freshly fucked blushes was conveying to our fellow breakfasters. It was massaging his ego, he’d had sex the night before and everyone in the room knew it.

One day early on in that interminable week, I took him to the Abbey Gardens and then to the crazy golf course. We played crazy golf badly and he enjoyed that but later when I wanted to walk through the gardens, he couldn't see the point of lingering under the great stone doorway and inhaling the smell of wild garlic. He had no interest in the pet cemetery that nestled just inside the door. He just was not charmed by the crumbling, greening stones commemorating ‘Horatio’ the Bull Mastif or ‘Dorothy’ the tabby cat. He couldn’t see the point of speculating about ‘Juno’ the Pointer’s life prior to his internment beneath the cracked stone that was now in danger of being choked by wild garlic and foxgloves.

He was baffled by my wish to renew my battle with the gnarled and glowering mulberry tree, the tree that had haunted my childhood walks. He hated mulberries and wouldn't help me pick them from the now even more ancient tree, the once sturdy buttresses now bent and more moss covered than before. He said they stained his fingers and tasted like shit. That wasn't the point but he couldn't or wouldn't understand. I had to tame the tree that had terrified me and by taking it’s fruit I was gaining a little victory.

As for feeding the ducks, well that was out of the question, he came once, on our first morning. It was beautiful, still and calm with only the distant cry of the gulls breaking the silence. He was still hungover and he got bored instantly, walking off to watch the gaggle of lunatic swimmers shivering as they drank putrid tea from rusty Thermos Flasks after their dawn swim in the freezing Channel water.

Every morning after that I went to the Gardens alone, leaving him snorting in the lumpy bed, with bread rolls and unwanted toast in my handbag. Bread rolls and unwanted toast that I'd snaffled from the breakfast table the previous morning and stored overnight, much to boyfriend's embarrassment. I was glad he was embarrassed about something because I still found it tortuous sitting there under all those disapproving glares, the tuts and the "Such a nice young girl" with accompanying shake of the head. I sat there mortified, pushing a greasy egg around my plate and trying to ignore their disapproval but most of all trying to ignore his smug sexually sated grin.

As he snored between the stained, threadbare sheets, I took my bread and toast to the stream running through the Gardens and talked to mother duck and her brood, her dwindling brood, the seagulls and the sewer rats were as effective as ever. I counted them off every morning and shed a dry tear for the little ones who hadn't made it through the night.

I didn’t find their premature deaths as earth shattering as I'd found it ten years earlier. Then I’d been distraught as I counted the babies every morning with Dad and Paul and Doug, the funny little man who always joined us and knew where to find the interesting stuff, the kingfisher’s nest, the discarded skin of an adder and the rare, ephemeral orchid with the delicate orange petals, but most off all he seemed to know where mother duck would be every morning.

Mother duck and her dwindling brood. One morning back than we found one of unfortunate bundles of down, all straggly and broken just beneath the surface of the water. Paul blurted: ‘look Doug there’s a dead duck down there!’

Then he was off, dancing and singing:

‘Dere’s a ded duck down dere Doug."

Over and over.

I cried and cried.

Now standing at the water’s edge alone and unhappy I couldn’t quite manage to feel distraught at the loss of a duckling. I'd gotten an ‘O’ level in biology since then and jurisprudence had taught that life in nature was "nasty, brutish and short."

It was sad all the same and soon the dry tears changed to wet and then the sobs came. What the hell was I doing here? Alone and embarrassed; marooned until the return coach on Friday. Marooned with a spotty, ginger, geek who had seemed sensitive at home but once away mutated into a priapic beer monster with no interest in anything but the happy hour lager on sale in the hellish quayside night-spots and then getting into my pants.

I dropped the last of the stale bread into the water and vowed to see mother duck again next year, she’d have a different brood and I’d have a different man.




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