This is my 2nd TMA for Creative Writing. It scored lower than the first but I received some fairly good comments :)
(the layout has gone haywire sorry )
Always by your side
It’s a beautiful July morning, the sun is streaming through the gap in the curtains and in about thirty seconds our daughter is going to burst into our bedroom. She has been awake since 6.30am but her mum told her she wasn’t allowed to be out of her room until at least 7am.
‘It’s my birthday’ she cries excitedly. Well it was less than thirty seconds but who’s counting?
Ellie is a gorgeous little girl (obviously as her father I am biased) she has the biggest blue eyes, the sort that can make you forgive anything when she aims her puppy dog look at you. Her hair is jet black and comes down just past her shoulders; the colour is identical to her mother’s hair but the bouncy curls she inherited from me (though she pulls off the curls much better than I ever have). Her skin is quite pale and we used to say if she had straight hair she could easily play Snow White; of course from a father’s point of view the thought of her sharing a house with seven men never really appealed to me.
Today is Ellie’s eighth birthday, she is an only child and my wife Sarah and I would never deny that she has been totally spoiled since the day she was born. Eight years may have passed but I still remember that day vividly. Sarah went into labour three weeks early while out shopping with her sister Jac, when my phone rang I was driving so I ignored it at first thinking whoever it was would ring back if it was important. I was right Jac rang back again and again, in fact I had fifteen missed calls by the time I got chance to pull over and answer. I managed to gather what had happened from Jac’s panicky cries down the phone and told her I would meet them at the hospital; as soon as I hung up I went into panic mode. For the entire twenty minute journey I talked to myself out loud. ‘Three weeks early? That’s ok though right? They’ll both be okay won’t they? Of course they will, don’t be silly it’s all going to be fine’ I tried hard to convince myself it would all be okay and for a little while it worked, then my hands started to sweat and my heart began to race. As I pulled into a parking space at the hospital it suddenly dawned on me, ‘oh my god, I’m going to be a dad!’ I sat gripping the steering wheel and staring into space, my knuckles were turning white when Jac knocked on the window.
‘Come on Dave you don’t wanna miss it do you?’ of course I didn’t, this was our little miracle about to be born.
Sarah and I had been married for fifteen years we were childhood sweethearts, soul mates. We started trying for a baby as soon as we were married but after five miscarriages we decided we couldn’t carry on doing it to ourselves; it obviously wasn’t meant to be. We put being parents to the back of our minds and tried not to think about it, years passed and we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would never have children. In the early part of May Sarah had been unwell for a few days with back pain and sickness so she went to see the doctor, she was still in shock when I returned from work. Staring right through me as I walked in the door Sarah said, ‘I’m pregnant, we’re pregnant, we’re having a baby!’, I didn’t even have chance to reply when she said, ‘In three months, the baby’s due in three months.’ with that she walked off in to the kitchen and started making dinner. I stood in the hall for a good ten minutes before I dropped my bag and followed her into the kitchen. She hadn’t even mentioned that she’d missed her periods, she said she just put it down to stress at work. So the danger period had passed without us even knowing and now we had three months to prepare for becoming parents, or two months and one week as it turned out.
As far as birthing partners go me and Jac were rubbish, we’re both born worriers and at one point were told off by the midwife because we were stressing Sarah out. For Sarah though this was a breeze, it didn’t faze her that the baby was early, her labour was fairly quick and within four hours of Jac’s phone call we had a beautiful baby girl and, although I say it was a breeze for Sarah, I also had a rather bruised hand to prove otherwise. We hadn’t got round to choosing names by this point so for two days she was just baby Macey. In the end we settled on Eleanor or Ellie for short, it was the name of Sarah’s great granny who amazingly lived until the grand age of 103, she was actually guest of honour at our wedding which took place on her 100th birthday.
So eight years have passed and here we are celebrating our little girl’s birthday, while Sarah and I sing happy birthday to her, Ellie makes herself comfy on the bed beaming from ear to ear its clear to see her excitement. Her grin gets even bigger when Sarah reveals a big bag full of presents which has been hiding under the bed, each gift is wrapped with such care and attention and Ellie gives each one her full attention when unwrapping them. She is one of those children that does everything neatly so the wrapping paper is never ripped, she takes such care that the whole present giving process takes longer than with most kids but she shows her appreciation for every gift. As Sarah hands over the first gift I see a tear fall on to her cheek, Ellie is oblivious as she reads the gift tag out loud.
‘To our darling daughter Ellie happy eighth birthday, love forever and always mummy and daddy’ her smile slowly vanishes and she puts the gift aside as she moves over to hug her mother ‘I miss him so much mummy’
‘Me too honey, me too’ as Sarah wraps our little Snow White in her arms I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. The realisation hits that I will never again be able to comfort my beautiful little girl when she’s sad or share in her happiness; I won’t be around to scare off any worthless boyfriends or walk her down the aisle when she meets the one man that deserves her. Never again will I share a bed with my gorgeous wife or walk hand in hand along the beach at Christmas, our monthly date nights now non-existent. I can’t help the tears from rolling down my cheeks at the thought that they can’t hear me when I say ‘I love you both so much, I miss you more than you will ever know but I’m right here I can’t leave you’ I decide to leave them alone for a while and even though I know they can’t hear me I can’t stop myself from saying; ‘bye, I’ll be back in a while’ those were my last words to my family, in fact apart from singing to the Westlife CD in the car (it belonged to Ellie) those were my last ever words.
It happened just over two months ago on May 12th, we were celebrating the anniversary of the day we found out we were pregnant as we had done every year since. We had enjoyed a lovely family day out at the zoo, the monkeys were always my favourite but Ellie loved to spend what felt like hours watching the giant tortoises, it probably felt like hours because they don’t really do a lot but for some reason she was fascinated with them. We bought her a cuddly toy one for her birthday but gave it to her that day; she has hardly let it go since. We had been out for most of the day and when we got home decided that a takeaway was called for. Because we could never agree on which takeaway to have then for the fourth year running we chose which one by using our tried and tested method of putting our choices on bits of paper screwing it up and letting the cat choose. Whichever piece of paper she played with first was the one we chose so this year it was Ellie’s choice of pizza hut that won and, once we decided what we were having, I went off to buy it telling my gorgeous girls that I would be back in a while. I wish I’d known that I wouldn’t be back. Ever. I wish I had told them both that I love them before I left. I wish I hadn’t left.
I didn’t make it to pizza hut; I only made it ten minutes away from home before I was killed. It was an accident there is nobody to blame although that doesn’t make it any easier. A milk tanker on the opposite side of the road lost control when his tyre had a puncture. There wasn’t much he could do, he tried to gain control but the tanker jack knifed directly in front of me and my car crashed straight into the side of it. From this point it’s a bit hazy, I don’t really know whether my memories are from when I was alive or from after I died. I heard sirens, I heard voices mostly asking me if I was okay, I heard my phone ringing and that was the point I knew for definite that I was dead. I looked at the phone screen which was flashing with the word ‘Home’ then I realised I was stood outside on the passenger side of the car, I looked up and saw my body in the driver’s seat surrounded by paramedics. I wanted to shout and scream at them to work harder, bring me back my family are waiting for me but deep down I knew it was too late. I moved over to the front of the lorry and watched as the police tried to talk to the driver, he wasn’t responding to them; he was alive but deep in shock. His face stared straight ahead and when I looked at his hands they were gripping the steering wheel tightly turning his knuckles white. It made me think of me on the day Ellie was born, two men in shock reacting in the same way; one in shock at the miracle of birth and one at the cruelness of death.
Since then I haven’t left my family, I went to my own funeral even though it tore me apart to see them hurting so much. I accompanied Ellie on her first day back at school two weeks later and I sat in the doctor’s waiting room when Sarah went to get sleeping tablets. I’m not leaving them ever, I can’t move on. I know they need me.
When I return to our room my girls are sat together under the duvet looking at Ellie’s last gift, this one was just from Sarah the rest we had bought a week before the accident and Sarah had gift wrapped them as soon as we got home mainly because Ellie is a bit of a snooper. I watch as Ellie unwraps her gift delicately, this one has different paper to the others it’s wrapped in blue paper (my favourite colour) and has silver ribbon tied around it. I notice when I look at Sarah that she is wearing my jumper, it’s a really old jumper and I’m trying to think why she chose that one. It all becomes clear though when Ellie reveals a silver double picture frame, in one side there is a picture of me and her at the zoo, our last day together and in the other side is a picture of me with her just minutes after she was born, our first day together, the jumper is what I’m wearing In that photo. On the back of the frame there is an envelope which Ellie opens to reveal a locket with identical photo’s inside ‘now daddy will always be with you sweetheart, even if he can’t be here in person’
‘I’ll always be here in spirit,’ I whisper. Sarah turns and looks directly at me and starts to cry. She can see me I know she can, as I mouth the words I love you to her she hugs Ellie and mouths the same words back at me before closing her eyes. I close my tear filled eyes knowing that they’re gone now, that’s all I needed, just to know that she knew I was there. I wish I had got the chance to tell her how proud Eleanor is that we named our little miracle after her.