Little Bethany



The sky is blue, sometimes grey. Clouds and rain, passing in due course as sirens cut through the air disturbing my sleep. Closing my eyes, I try to get back to that warm place, but slowly it fades leaving me cold and alone. I was having a dream about Sarah at the time she was pregnant. Placing my hand on her belly, I could feel Bethany kicking, cocooned within from the outside world. Sarah was smiling, and the two, or should I say three of us, were laying in bed in the lake district on my birthday. The sun was shining, and there were endless trees all shades of green everywhere you looked. There was nothing more to the dream, just that one fragment, stretched over the course of the two hours I had passed out after getting back from work. When I awoke, I immediately remembered being stood over Bethany’s coffin the day we buried her. Sarah had been worried I would fall onto the coffin while I was lowering it into the ground. I didn’t fall, however. That came months later. Lighting a cigarette while stood looking out the window, thoughts of the two of them flood my mind. Little Bethany. The framed scans. The baby clothes I would buy. The early hours of the morning when Sarah gave birth to her at twenty weeks. Sleeping by her side in a makeshift bed in our private room at the hospital, she woke me up yelling that her waters had broke. Hours later, and Bethany was wrapped in a pink blanket. Her mother’s nose. My ears. Soft, yet lifeless. All those dreams, gone. I still have the box of her keepsakes. Those little handprints, the blanket she’d been in. Love letters, and secret pain.

Lost in thought, my dad knocks on the door. Telling him to enter, he brings me a cup of tea and makes conversation. The skin on the side of his face is peeling off from the cancer treatment. He’s doing well, though, better than I imagined. If they diagnosed me with cancer, I’d probably chuck myself under a bus. Drinking the tea, I realise that I haven’t spoken to Sarah in nearly a year. We don’t talk. Too much history. Although despite everything, I hope she’s safe. Going over those sequence of events, I remember the two of us coming home in a taxi later that morning. Crawling into bed, I wrapped my arms around her, and we slept for the rest of the day. Such tenderness in a time of silent despair. Bethany would’ve been four now, and not a day goes by when she’s not with me. Those moments when I zone out, looking at nothing in particular. Those evenings when I’m writing and stop mid-sentence. She has a habit of cutting me down. Running myself a bath, I soak for the best part of an hour. The bathroom window slightly ajar, I hear sounds of church bells and birdsong as somewhere nearby neighbours celebrate a child’s birthday. More memories. Some good, some less so. Feeling neither happy nor sad, I dry myself off and sit on the edge of the bed. I don’t want to do anything. People tire me, wearing me down with their useless problems. Always using you for their own ends. So I avoid them the best I can. Writing brings me strength, so that’s what comes first. Sometimes it gets lonely, but that’s how it has to be. I feel a constant guilt for everything I’ve ever done. For everything that’s ever gone wrong. Putting my head in my hands, I close my eyes and see things that make me stronger. Perhaps tonight I’ll put them down on paper. That’s what gets me through it.

11 replies »

  1. I wish I could form additional words to bring comfort, hope or just support for you. But for now, I will read and feel your posts and understand the pain…

    • Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say. It’s been a few years now, but I find writing definitely helps. I spent far too long keeping things bottled up, which caused many problems. Expressing those difficult emotions has been the way forwards.

      • I find that men have more stacked against them as far as being able to release emotions in the culture we live in, and dare I say that the culture specifically of the United Kingdom is even moreso. It takes courage to face painful things and even more to let them out. You are a brave individual.

      • I would agree with you on that. Guys aren’t really supposed to show weakness. And when they do, it’s frowned upon, I guess that’s why the suicides rates for men are so high. Maybe a few years ago I was like that, not really saying anything, just keeping it all in. But once you make the decision to be let it all out, it gets easier. And for me, being able to channel it into something artistic is a great feeling 🙂

  2. Reading this again after reading your post today. Just makes me hold you tighter in acknowledgement of your courage, weakness, realness and most of all, love that you still bear for that little girl. A little girl more loved by you both I dare say, than others a lifetime are.

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