The Grey Hairs of A Mother

“Mum!!!!” I rolled over slowly, still deep in sleep wondering when I set my alarm clock to six in the morning. I peel my right eyelid open, to see that my alarm hadn’t actually gone off.
“MUM, MICHELLE IS TAKING MY STUFF AGAIN!” No it wasn’t my alarm, it was just my kids that was waking me up more than an hour earlier than I needed to be. I rolled over again to check if Mike had heard the girls yelling, but either he did and was acting as though he heard nothing or he was still actually sleeping and had somehow grown immune to the noise of our kids and knew how to drown them out within his unconscious. With a headache creeping ever so slowly over my brain, I slowly sat up and took a deep breath in. It was times as such when I felt as though crying was the best thing to do. Had you ever been disturbed from your sleep that it almost brought you to tears? That feeling that you just so badly wanted to return to that peaceful unconscious you were in, but something constantly kept nagging at you, waking you up? That was how I felt now. With sleep slipping further away from my clutches, and annoyance taking its place rapidly, I slipped my feet into my brown fluffy slippers and went to go and check on my daughters who had decided to wake up the whole neighbourhood in the early hours of the morning.

Slowly trudging in the hallway, my matted hair in a messy bun, sleep still in my eyes and a headache, I get to Michelle’s room and see both her and Michelle conducting a violent tug of war on a black jumper. Each daughter tightly grabbing an arm of the jumper, whilst they both tested each strength by pulling the sleeve towards themselves, hoping that the other would fail to remain strong enough to hold onto the sleeve and let go. Taking yet another deep breath, I slowly stand between the girls, feeling sorrier for the knitted jumper that was sure to be slacker now than when it was originally purchased.
“Girls, it is only just gone past six. What are you doing fighting over a jumper?”
“Michelle stole my jumper!” Katy screamed, tugging at the right sleeve, hoping Michelle’s attention had diverted enough for her to win the war and get the prize. Michelle tugged back and looked at me.
“Mum it’s mine! Katy’s lying, she stomped in her this morning like some animal ¬–”
“I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!”
“Well you’re yelling like one.” James, their younger brother said as he walked passed the open door rubbing sleep from his eyes. A small chuckle escaped my lips, making Katy throw an icy stare my way. Putting my mother cap back on, I sighed and rubbed my temple trying to decipher who I bought the bloody jumper for.
“Okay, well firstly, you both don’t wear the same size, so what size is it?”
“Medium mum! You know that’s my size!” Katy shouted to me, making me wince as her voice pierced my ears and ran straight to my brain.
“NO! I wear medium too. Check any of my jumpers, I get medium!” For crying out loud. I shifted my weight onto another leg, wishing Mike would pull the girls apart and let me get some more rest.
“Okay, Michelle, Katy – it’s too early for this. If you both aren’t going to settle this like grown ups then give me the jumper and I will hold it until further notice.”
“No…Katy get off the jumper!” Michelle tugged violently again, causing Katy to stumble forwards. Katy retaliated pulling the jumper just as hard, having the same result with Michelle as she stumbled forward. Tired of seeing my daughters ruin a perfectly good jumper, I get between them, releasing their grip on the sleeve and taking the jumper into my hands. I lifted the jumper, assessing the damages and grow even more annoyed. They had both been pulling on the jumper for so long, they could literally both fit inside the jumper or even cut it in half and get a tailor to knit another jumper. I raise my eyebrows and look at both Katy and Michelle who stood scowling at each other.
“Okay, you both have successfully ruined this jumper, so no one is getting it. Next time you sort it out like bloody adults, look at the size of this now, it looks like double XL, not a medium.”
Katy stormed out the room and went back to her own room, slamming the door – symbolically screaming that no one should disturb her and if anyone did so they were sure to feel her raft. I looked at Michelle who stood silently pouting, being the younger sister out of her and Katy, she tried to play the young card far more often than necessary. I shook my head, reiterating that she was not getting the jumper, causing her to frown. I left the room, far more awake than I should have been at six in the morning and made my way to the kitchen in order make myself a cup of coffee. There was no way I was going to get anymore sleep now, so I might as well have started my day.
I walk into the cream kitchen to see James sitting by the dining table eating toast with a cup of orange juice.
“Why is everyone awake now?” I mumbled under my breathe, turning on the coffee machine.
“What d’you say mum?” James said, one toast in his hand and half another toast in his mouth. James was always a little creative. He was my only child that seemed to find humour in everything. I remembered when I had gone to his parents evening and his teacher was explaining ways in which James could be better behaved. When he was asked what he thought he could do to improve his constant chatter during the class, he shrugged and said, ‘I can try, but I am young miss, I am bound to talk, it’s in my blood’. I tried to suppress my laugh then, but when I saw the frown on his teachers face and the absolute truth on James’ – I couldn’t help but chuckle. No matter how much I tried to be strict and firm, James was my only child who could get a sly giggle out of me.
“I said James, why is everyone awake?”
“I don’t know. It was Michelle and Katy that woke me up.” I rolled my eyes and sighed.
“Your dad didn’t even hear any of that, he’s still sleeping.”
“I bet he did. He told me that he acts sometimes, acts like he can’t hear us winge so that you can sort it out.” Before I got to respond, Matt walked in rubbing his eyes and yawning.
“Don’t lie to your mother James.”
“That’s if I’m lying… and I’m not.” He said continuing to eat his breakfast. I look at Matt who’d grabbed a mug and started pouring coffee into it.

“Really Matt?” Matt looked at the mug and then back at me as if to say he was unaware of what he just did.
“What?”
“I didn’t get the coffee started for you to just come and take it.” He rolled his eyes and sat on by the dining table.
“Why you up so early?” He asked James, as I poured the rest of the coffee into my ‘favourite mum’ mug and took a seat beside James.
“Michelle and Katy were arguing…again.” He said looking as annoyed as I did a few minutes ago when I was called to haul them away from each other.
“Over what this time?” Matt asked me.
“A jumper…they both claimed it was theirs.”
“It was mine.” Michelle sang, bouncing into the kitchen, stealing one of James toasts whilst sitting on the seat next to Matt. “But we all know how Katy gets. So we both didn’t get it.”
“Watch it Michelle.” Matt warned her, getting up to make more coffee. The more years I racked up in my time as a mother I could tell when a day was going to be longer than necessary and then when it was just going to be a downright pain in the arse. That was today. These days I avoided like plague, the kids acted like they hated each other, Matt’s breathing would literally piss me off and to make everything worse, I would get a full-blown mummy headache throughout the day. It was just too much for me to deal with, yet something I had to deal with on a daily basis.
“James don’t you have history today?” Michelle asked chomping down on the toast.
“Yeah – Oh shoot! I forgot my homework!”
“Forgot it where?”
“At school.” And the miners in my head resumed their work by beating on my skull.
“Christ, that Miss Maple is going to call us in, again.” Matt moaned beside me.
“I know right, I won’t attend another meeting.” I whispered to Matt who had managed to sneak out of the last two meetings I was called into for James’ lack of homework.
“I don’t blame you, we’ve got to sit him down, he needs to start doing his homework.”
“I don’t even know when he gets homework.” I said softly as both Michelle and James had started talking, trying to conjure up a lie that he could tell his teacher.
“Neither do I.”
“Christ, we aren’t the greatest parents.” Matt chuckled, planting a kiss on my cheek. We tried as much as we could for our kids, but just like any other parent, things slipped through the cracks. It was tough being a superwoman, I wasn’t even half of that, so I couldn’t even imagine how others managed to do it all and still have time for themselves. That instantly reminded me of the roots that were now reappearing in my hair, or my nails that had outgrown its time period and needed to be seriously redone. Matt saw the way in which I had begun assessing myself and kissed me again on the cheek.
“You look beautiful.”
“Ew dad, that twice this morning, aka two too many times.”
“It’s love.” Michelle cooed, whilst James rolled his eyes.
“Alright guys, get ready for school and KATY, come down and have breakfast.” What I loved about Matt was that even though I was left to solve the arguments, the visits to school, the parenting (basically), when Matt decided to take charge, he did it so well that it made me wonder why I hadn’t asked him to do it earlier. The kids seemed to just listen well to Matt, whereas they knew how to sway me – I wasn’t proud but sometimes it just made things easier. After James had finished eating, he rushed upstairs into the bathroom, whilst Katy stomped downstairs and into the kitchen.
“Morning to you too.” Matt said smiling.
“I’m not in the mood dad.” She said looking down with a frown on her face.
“What’s up princess?” Matt sat beside her as I made her some toast, egg and bacon for breakfast. It was better if Matt handled Katy. It wasn’t like I couldn’t but I felt as though if there was one child I struggled to understand, it was Katy. Constantly blowing hot and cold with me, I never seemed to do things right with her. I couldn’t blame her, it was the same way I was with my own mother, but having it done to me just increases my sympathy to my mum. It must not have been easy with me being distant all the time, sometimes it feels as though there’s no bond.
“Helen!” I jump out of my thoughts and turn towards both Matt and Katy.
“See she wasn’t even listening.” Matt signalled me with his eyes as if to say that I had royally messed up again with Katy. Trying to play catch-up on whatever I had just missed out on, I turn my attention to Katy.
“I’m sorry Katy, what was you saying.”
“It’s not fair that Michelle gets away with acting like a brat. That was my jumper, I was going to wear it today as it’s mufti-day, but she’s ruined it!” Her eyes watered and I looked at Matt, who looked straight back at me. This was us, every single day. Buckling over parenthood, never truly getting it right, but managing to do just about a decent job. If I didn’t know something, I hoped Matt did, but in all honesty, we were both as unaware as each other. You don’t become an expert with more kids, you just learn more as more kids mean different behaviours, different feelings, different emotions. I lower the cooking gas and sit opposite Katy, who now had a stray tear down her cheek.
“I’m sorry Katy that you didn’t get to wear the jumper. But you and Michelle need to learn how to get on, how to share. I don’t know whose jumper that was and I don’t even care. You both should have solved that issue way before I had to come in and do it for you. Now –” I said interrupting her, as she looked ready to start speaking. “I know you wanted to wear that jumper, but for today, can you find something else and then on Saturday we can go shopping so I can buy both you and Michelle new clothes.”
After a few sniffs, Katy nodded her head. I gave Matt a quick look of reassurance, he returned my quizzical stare with a small smile and a brief nod. We had done it again, we’d somehow stumbled through parenting and managed to do it right. I smiled back at him and went back to making breakfast for Katy who had remained quiet, but had looked much more positive than when she stormed in.

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

 

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The Little Girl [Part 1]

Reports had stacked up far beyond what she could even recall gathering. Amongst those were email requests from clients and reporters who had been more than intrusive on Olivia’s work and private information. She wasn’t interested in responding to those emails, all they wanted was to put their noses into places where it wasn’t needed. After hours of categorising her workload she began to put pen to paper when her phone rang. Dammit. She grabbed her phone and looked at the caller ID before answering, Lieutenant Young. Her thumb lightly traced the answer button as she stared at the name. How long had it been, five months? Olivia remembered her last time she’d been with Young, all her insides tighten at the memory. There was always something about Young that had Olivia tense in a way she tried to reject far often than need be. Remembering she’d left the phone unanswered, she picked up the call.

“L-Lieutenant?”

“Olivia.”

The connection that she had questioned for months hadn’t just been an imagination. It was there and still strong as it was five months ago. With a struggle, she put on her professional voice, ignoring how her body had reacted to his voice.

“Is there something I can help you with?”

“Yes,” he spoke with a husky voice. Olivia rejected the urge to feed into her need and desire and let him continue. “I mean, I’ve got a case here and need your help.”

He wanted her and that was obvious. But he hadn’t called for that, something was wrong and he’d called for help.

“I assume you need me now?”

“Yes, if it’s possible?”

Her eyes gazed at the pile that continued to gain in height and ran a hand through her hair. Whether the workload was a mass amount or not, she knew due to the fact that Young had called her, she’d oblige to any request he made. You’re pathetic Olivia, so pathetic.

“Sure, I’ll be there shortly.”

She cut the phone and with an exasperated sigh, stood up stretching her arms and wondered what case Young was working on that would require her expertise. She recently read in the news a case Young had been working on. A child had died in the hands of his own mother, yet the mother was still able to walk the streets free no matter how much Young had tried to put her away, due to her attorney.

Grabbing her car keys, she left her office sure to return after her visit to the precinct. Weary of the poor weather the Cincinnati skies had showered upon everyone, she slowly walked towards her Ford Fiesta, making sure the snow beneath her feet were solid enough to handle the pressure she applied.

It hadn’t taken her too long to reach her destination, which is probably why they called her, she thought, hoping there was more to Young’s invitation. Stop it Olivia, just find out what he wants. She buried her hope deep within a place where she was sure she couldn’t reach and focused on the task before her. Bracing herself for the frosty weather, she got out her Ford Fiesta and walked towards the building. Shaking off the snow, she looked around noticing how busy it was and found what looked like to be the reception.

“Hello.”

“Dr Lint?”

“Yes, is Lieutenant Young around?”

“You’re here.”

A deep voice rumbled behind her, making her turn around. He hadn’t changed. Lieutenant Young amongst two officers made their way towards her, giving Olivia enough time to get a glimpse of how Young had developed over the few months they hadn’t seen each other. Young was the youngest in the force to become a Lieutenant, yet held so much confidence. Whether that was because of his huge frame or his stern face, either or, no one attempted to cross his path. He not only strived to gain the best possible outcome, but he always seemed to have that golden intuition that helped solve his cases. As far as Olivia had known, he had only failed three times to close a case in the eleven years of being a cop and last month was one of them.

“Lieutenant, how are you?”

“No need for formalities, call me Nicholas.”

Olivia only realised how great his frame was after being so close to him. She wasn’t a woman who was dependent on anyone, but being beside Young made her feel small but not in a way which she felt vulnerable. I’ve missed feeling like this. It’s been so long. She didn’t despise the feeling, in an odd sense she enjoyed it, probably far more than she should have. She shook his hand, ignoring the electrifying shock that ran through her body and focused on the matter at hand.

“So what did you need me for Lieutenant?”

He gave her a quick but brief smile, noticing her obvious remark to ignore his previous request and angled her towards the corridor.

“I thought it would be better to let you see first hand with what we’re trying to work with.”

As they walked through the corridor, with the remaining officers behind both her and Young, she tried to ignore the gut wrenching feeling that began brewing in her stomach. She knew all to well that the last time she walked this path was to help solve a child trafficking case, and Olivia tried so hard to forget those memories.

“Another child I guess?” Without looking at her he nodded.

“Just step into this room.” She opened the door and walked in, sighing as she witnessed from the one sided mirror a small fragile girl, who probably lacked nutrition in a large black jacket. The little girl had her fists tightly balled in her laps with her head down, letting stray clumpy hairs fall.

“She’s so young.” Olivia murmured to herself.

“This is both Detective Dorian Moore, the lead detective of this case and his partner Detective Andrew Williams. Both detectives came across a blood bath this evening and the only living thing left is this little girl.”

“Jesus.”

“Jesus indeed-” Detective Moore spoke reaching his hand out for a shake. She took his hand, instantly comparing it to Young’s and then disregarded the thought. “After she was recovered from the scene all she’s done is sit, with her head down.”

“We can’t even get a reaction out of her, she almost seems as though she can’t hear us.”

Detective Williams said looking at the girl through the one-way mirror. She must have been through a lot Olivia thought, definitely nothing she hadn’t come across before.

“We tried to see if she was possibly deaf, but she was still unresponsive.”

“How did you try that?” Olivia asked Moore who seemed to hold a grave look on his face.

“My brother’s deaf, so I learnt how to communicate through sign-language.” She nodded then turned to the little girl who hadn’t moved an inch during their conversation.

“And she didn’t respond to that either?”

“No.” Young had said, closer to her than she had anticipated. She steadied her heart and focused on the girl.

“We tried everything.” Williams said rustling hair that once had been carefully groomed, but now held a rough look.

“Apart from you.”

Trying to ignore the double meaning behind his comment, knowing it was her alone who had caught it, she pushed those disobeying thoughts further away in her mind, and she stared at the child who’d probably seen more than her mind could comprehend and began devising a strategy.

“Before anything I can’t promise to give you any critical information tonight. This girl has probably witnessed too much to even function anymore, my main priority is to get her functioning again, have her involved in idle conversation and then I’ll begin working on pulling out information in relation to the case.”

“Anything is better than nothing.” His voice ricocheted around the room, leaving Olivia vibrating. Waiting until she had gathered her composure, she turned to face Young, who was no more than a foot or two away from her.

“Is there any other aspects of the crime scene I should be aware of?”

Trying to gain an understanding of how she could formulate her questions without pressing any trigger buttons.

“First we need your trust. What we disclose with you cannot be recorded or broadcasted, not until things play out in our hand more favourably than now.”

Olivia gave Young a firm nod, knowing far too well the extent of those bottom-feeding journalists. Once they got an earful of any of her cases, they piled up at her office requesting for a statement, she hadn’t needed Young to go on to understand what he was saying.

“You have my trust Lieutenant.”

With a dark look in his eyes, he looked to his colleagues who shared the same look as he did and took a deep breath, his jaw working as he faced Olivia.

“Nine, nine dead mutilated bodies were found with the little girl. So Olivia tread carefully.”

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

Him

When he spoke, all listened. His presence demanded attention and once he was amongst people, their knees bowed to his existence. He was their Messiah. The founder and creator. They worshipped him and glorified him, similar to the ways Jesus was exalted. He had no name, he was referred to as ‘Him’, he represented every single being in society, the women, the men, the children, the animals, he was all of them combined into one. When individuals had complications within their marriages, or between families, they called Him, and through the power God had given to him, he’d resolve all. This world had no difficulties, and they had Him to thank.

He kept order in society, kept the bad out of sight and professed the good. He was fair, they had no objections because he spoke for the people, what they wanted he provided, what they detested, he removed. Why would anyone have any grievances? Instead they showered him with gifts, to signify their thanks; gold, frankincense and myrrh was presented to him, and he accepted each one. He’d smile, and place two light kisses on each individual’s cheek, to show his appreciation. He’d then throw a celebration for his people. Music accompanied with food was presented, whilst the biggest gift of all was being in his presence. For the last hour of the celebration, he’d come and join in, greeting all the families, as he was familiar with everyone. He’d smile, laugh and say a prayer or two, but soon after, he and his guards would return to his temple. Some would cry, and others would plea for him to stay, but he always raised his right hand and smiled, reassuring them that he’d be back; and that was enough for them to suppress their pleas.

He never walked alone; guards always surrounded him, one in front of him, two at each of his sides and one behind him – he had eyes at every angle, the way he liked it. Every night they’d walk him to his room, which was draped in silk and duchess satin, with fine oil and perfume positioned in every corner. He lived like a king, he was wealthy, never had to struggle, and he wanted to make sure none of his people had to struggle too. Whilst he slept, his guards took place outside his door, protecting him day and night.

But, what they couldn’t protect him from was his dreams. Things he attempted to conceal, memories he buried so deep, he was unsure he could find. But dreams revealed all. Every breath he took as he slept revealed more of the past, opened more of the closed doors he’d oppressed many years ago.

What he feared to tell all, was spoken so clearly in his visions. And it always started from the beginning, because in the beginning, there was no land or sea, no creatures to roam the earth, no humans, no day or night, or no sky. There was just a void. God looked upon this Earth and saw potential, he created what we are all familiar with today, light, dark, sky, land, sea. But something was absent; something was missing from this world. He placed six men unto the Earth and gave them the grace to never age nor die, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Xyloism. Each man held the same beliefs, but all in different perspectives. God wanted each man to work together, to build the Earth into the strongest form where religion and the word of God was taught and spread throughout many nations. Each man agreed to do so, and swore an oath to work hand-in-hand to turn Earth into the greatest planet known to man. For many years, the men came together and worked cooperatively to build Earth.

Until one day.

October 31st, the day when one man understood his power and strength was above natural. He realised he didn’t have to work with these other men to fulfil the realm he’d always desired. They’d done most of the work together, but what he now knew was that he didn’t need them anymore. He knew he could run this planet without them overruling his plans. On this fateful day, he used his power to create an abyss within the grounds of the Earth.

Before any man could stop him, he had gained control over each and every one of them, and sent them into this darkness he had created. He had become impractical and selfish with his powers, greed had consumed him, he no longer treasured the gift God had given him, but he had now begun abusing it. At first he relished living the life he believed he created, took pleasure in living in the world alone. He had plans, he wanted to build a society that only looked onto him for help, that saw him as his saviour, but the only people on the world at that time were the other men he’d thrown into the abyss he’d created.

He needed to create his own man, and woman even. He wanted to build a society that worshipped him, and believed in him. He had morphed into a man who had lost the power to sympathise, but gained the power to purely focus on the microcosm he was so sure to build. No one could stop him, not even God. But what he hadn’t known was that God had seen everything, and had let him get away with all. Because God knew justice was coming, no matter how long it took; it would come, and be his Achilles heel.

It was mid-day, many people had already overwhelmed Him with gifts, prayers and thanks, and like routine, he kissed both cheeks and accepted each one. Today he thought he’d give his people a celebration, a chance for them to rejoice and him to be glorified by these blinded people. As he sat amongst them, children ran around and played with each other, elders sat around a table and ate, whilst others praised his name. But what He hadn’t known, was two children had run into his temple, playing the traditional hide and seek. It was normal for children to play around with each other, they were told to view each other as family, blood or no blood related.

But, they were told never to play in the temple. That was the one place no one had ever stepped foot in. But they were young and fickle, who could blame them. You see, Adam was quick, too quick for Eve, he thought he had the best hiding spot, he’d ran down these grand stairs and pushed open a door with bars. He then hid in a cupboard and waited until Eve found him, which he was sure would be a very long time.

Eve saw him run into the temple, she knew it was wrong, it was the one place they weren’t allowed to go, but she couldn’t stop him, even after she chased him into the building and down those stairs, she still couldn’t catch up to him. She didn’t really know where she was. It was dark, with candles to substitute for light, it was even cold there, she wished Adam hadn’t run into the temple. She came across a black door, there were no windows nor was there any light seeping through the cracks of the door, just pure darkness. She knew how Adam could be, she knew he thought he was the best at hiding, so she turned the knob and pulled the door open.

It was dark, no light seemed to have roamed this room, she took a candle and called out for Adam once, twice. No reply. She took a step inside, her fears slowly increasing, each step seemed to horrify her more and she couldn’t explain why. She never had a reason to be afraid of the dark before, but this wasn’t just a room with no light. It was a room with no life, nothing. Comprehending this room was something Eve couldn’t do. It made no sense to her. She shone her candle forward and jumped seeing five men chained and tied down. To what, she couldn’t see, but they were prisoners in this room. One man looked up at her, a tear rolling down his unclean cheek, whilst his eyes became dilated due to the light. She knew she needed to call for help, what she was seeing wasn’t right. She turned around to get some help but ran into Him.

He wasn’t the same, something had changed about him, he wasn’t the man she saw everyday. He had dark eyes and a pale face. He lifted her up, head between his hands and without hesitation snapped her neck, and threw her lifeless body to the side. Adam held his mouth and forced his cry back. He didn’t want to believe what he had seen, let alone understand it, but everything had sadly become so clear for such a young boy like Adam. He tucked himself deeper into the cupboard and closed his eyes, hoping he wouldn’t find him there, and kill him like how he had just done to Eve.

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun