Saturday, April 5, 2008

Patchwork History


Describe a time your character gave up; and how it affected them for the rest of their life.

Behind the dark frames of her sunglasses, Matilda watched the young bride enter the church. Her breath caught in her throat as she turned to go, fighting back her tears. She wondered what Ida would have looked like in her wedding dress. Matilda retired to a spot across the street and planned to wait till the confetti and rice was thrown, after the bridal party had been whisked away; before she would approach the church to pick up a few grains and coloured paper.

For over fifteen years, Matilda had watched Liza. Always at the back of the school hall, in the crowd, across the street; collecting precious momentos as she went. Newspaper clippings, school photos, name tags and place markers. Matilda had a huge scrapbook, lovingly kept up to date with Lizas life.

Liza and Ida had become friends over playtime in the sandpit, sharing mudpies and collecting feathers and other treasures. Ida had not made friends easily, her shy nature forcing her to hide in the shadows at school and in the playground. Through her grey mist, Matilda encouraged the friendship, gladdened that Ida had someone to play and talk with. Once the war was over and her husband remained one of the unreturned, Matilda had lost all sense of direction. Matilda had been thankful Ida had been so undemanding. Without her husband, ,she gave up, wishing she could simply disappear and perhaps amongst the grey ghosts and hallways, she would find him. The stress of having to bring up a small child on her own, little financial support and no family to lean upon, Matilda spiraled into a deep depression. Matildas days wove uneasily around the routine of school and housework, punctuated by the stress of little food and heating.

The lack of good quality food sources, the spreading poverty amongst the war torn country and the degeneration of the health system saw many diseases manifesting within communities. Chickenpox and measles had quickly spread throughout Liza and Idas school, forcing most children to recuperate for weeks at home. These childhood diseases were usually only a dampener on healthy children’s spirits and energy levels, with the majority of suffers bouncing back to school and play within a fortnight or so. The communitys only doctor was kept busy with home visits, though he tried to keep these to a minimum as fuel for his vehicle was still being rationed.

Matildas mist of blackness cleared when she realized that Ida had not gotten out of bed for the best of three days.. As Matilda crept into Idas room, she saw that she was smiling and reaching her hands up above her head. Her small body was awash with the angry red rash.

“Ida, what are you doing?” she asked.

Without turning to her mother, Ida replied, “Trying to touch her hair”

Confused, Matilda asked, “Whose hair?”

“The angels.” Came the dreamy reply.

Shocked, Matilda stumbled next door to ask to use the phone. Dr Harison wearily took the call and assured the concerned mother that most children in the community had a similar rash and that within a few days it would be gone. However, something in her tone, made him agree to come out to look at Ida straight away.

Idas body was peaceful when Matilda burst into her room. Her spirit had been released and she was now dancing with the fairies she had spoken so often about. Dr Harison found Matilda kneeling beside Idas bed, too shocked to take in what had just happened.

Matilda snapped back to the present. A loud cheer had just erupted from the stairs of the church. Liza threw her bouquet high into the air and a tussle amongst the young ladies in the front started.

Matilda sighed. A few more mins and the crowds would disperse to the reception and it would be safe for her to cross the street and secure another piece of history that could never belong to her.

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