I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it feels to say that I have written a whole book when the most I have ever written before when it comes to creative writing is probably the badly written story that I penned in class 4C aged 9 ! The ideas have always been there but the inclination to write has not and I’m not brilliant with stringing together words. I would be kidding myself if I ever thought I was remotely close to the standard of writing you find in published novels.
I’m going to put down my writing pen for a few weeks off and have a little rest. I’ve written nearly every day since March and I’m all storied out. I will then start the editing process. It’ll be a case of the blind leading the blind as I really don’t know where to start. I will look for a professional editor to check it over. Let’s just hope that they don’t suggest binning it and start all over again! I’m hoping to find an agent to take it on but I must be realistic and be prepared for lots of rejections. Who know’s though, someone, somewhere out there might like it.
I will get back to blogging about this, that and the other soon but it will be weird nor posting my instalments,
So here it is. The final instalment. Hope that you enjoy it!
Maggie Thornden, Where are you?
One year later
Maggie was relieved to be away from the throngs of people who were milling around the tourist attractions at Land’s End. Cornwall had been experiencing a heatwave for days now. The sky continued to be cloudless and the blistering heat from the sun was relentless. The air was still and the turquoise sea was as calm as a millpond. It was still fairly early and she imagined that at some point the families in the gift shops, taking photos at the iconic signpost and visiting the various attractions would descend on to the packed beaches at Sennen and Porthcurno with their windbreaks, camping chairs and all the rest of the paraphernalia required for an afternoon of building sandcastles, body boarding and trying not to get sand in the egg sandwiches.
If they think that they’ll find somewhere to park then they are in for a nasty shock. It’s people like them that will end up parking inconsiderately and give all visitors a bad name. She’d though as she’d watched the holiday makers in flip flops and shorts explore the most western point of mainland Britain.She couldn’t help but smile when it occurred to her that that was just the kind of comment Gordon would have made.
She walked along the same path as she had done two years previously. Every now and then she stopped and lifted the binoculars that were strung around her neck to her eyes. She wished Gordon was here now to help her identify the birds that were sitting on the rocks below or flying low over the water, their beady eyes looking out for their next meal. She still wasn’t very good at identifying birds but she was getting better. At least these days she could tell the difference between a rook and a crow. Gordon had taken her to the Wetland Centre at Slimbridge a couple of times and she’d come to the conclusion that bird watching was actually quite interesting once you knew which bird was which.
Lowering the binoculars something in the water below caught her eye. She looked through the binoculars for a better look. A large dark form, several meters long was moving slowly close to the surface of the crystal clear water. Every now and then the giant sea creature’s dorsal fin would appear briefly before disappearing again. Maggie stood mesmerised watching the basking shark until she lost sight of it as it swam away into deeper water. Maggie had often seen photos of people swimming feet away from these gentle marine giants but she’d never thought that she would get to actually see one.
If only Gordon had been here with her to share the experience. He was never one to show his excitement about anything but she knew that if he was here he would stand close to her with his hand on her shoulder and regale her with facts about the animal and she would tease him and call him a walking encyclopaedia. She recalled the moment when she knew that she was in love with the awkward, shy young man. It was late at night and they were walking home through a park after a trip to the cinema to see some art house foreign language film. His choice, not hers. She had wanted to see Crocodile Dundee but he had won the toss of a coin and so she had endured two hours of reading subtitles whilst trying to make heads or tails of the convoluted plot. It was a freezing cloudless night and grass was already glistening with the first hint of frost. The new moon hung low in a sky that was filled with twinkling stars. They had sat down on a bench and he had pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her to keep her warm. They looked up to the stars and he pointed out constellations, planets and galaxies. He told her about black holes and meteors and how in Greek mythology it was believed that the constellations were mostly heroes and heroines who received a place in the heavens as a memorial to their deeds. See that star there, he had said pointing upwards it’s called Maggie and that other star that is so close so that they almost look as though they are touching is called Gordon. Together they make a brand new constellation. So new that only you and I know of its existence. Maggie had then climbed onto his lap to face him and whispered I love you, my very own Patrick Moore before kissing him.
How long had it taken before Maggie had grown bored of Gordon’s insistence on sharing his knowledge of everything from aardvarks to zebras?
But they’d tried hard to turn things around and she had made an effort to listen to him and discuss subjects that interested him. Although there was a limit to appearing interested as far as cricket was concerned! He had done his bit too and had encouraged her to continue with her online courses. He’d wanted her to find another job but for the time being she felt that her place was at home. She would work again. Just not yet.
She suddenly snapped out her reverie and looked at her watch. It was time to turn around and head back to where the others would be waiting for her.
The twins were the first to see Maggie and ran excitedly towards her. They were wearing matching sundresses, floppy sunhats and had the white tell-tale signs of factor 50 sun cream having been recently smeared over their chubby little bodies.
“Nana, Nana. You’re back. Mummy was getting cross with you.” Squealed Lottie whilst hugging Maggie’s leg.
Maggie looked over to Susan and raised her eyebrows.
Susan laughed “Just daughterly concern although I was beginning to wonder if I was needing to contact the coast guard.”
“Your father always took great delight in telling that story.” Maggie looked around “Where’s Tom, James and Emily?”
“Gone to buy some water and Emily needed the loo again. I can’t believe that I forgot to pack our water bottles.” She patted her swollen belly “My brain seems to have turned to mush these days”
Susan was six months pregnant and expecting a baby boy. Unlike her pregnancy with the twins when she’d bought every book going on having a baby, attended some pretty wacky sounding relaxation classes and called the midwife whenever she felt a twinge, she was very laid back about this one and apart from slightly puffy ankles was sailing effortlessly through her pregnancy. When they’d found out that another baby was on the way Susan and Tom had decided that that their house wasn’t big enough for their growing family. Maggie and Gordon were taken by surprise when their daughter and son in law had made an offer on a new build only a short distance away from their Gloucester home so that they could be closer to them.
“You alright Mum?” asked Susan looking concerned. “You look miles away”
Maggie smiled at her daughter “Yes darling, just lost in my thoughts. Being here has brought back memories. See that bus stop? That’s the turning point in both mine and your dad’s life. I don’t know what path our lives would have taken if I’d not jumped on that bus.”
“Dad would still have got ill though no matter what you decided to do that day.” Pointed out Susan.
“That’s true, but when he got diagnosed, we were a team rather than just two disconnected people who happened to be married. That made a huge difference. We were there to support each other.”
“He could still be a grumpy old sod though couldn’t he?”
Maggie laughed “Oh yes..he could definitely be that alright!”
Tom, James and Emily reappeared with water and ice creams that were already dripping in the heat.
“You’d better be quick eating these. Not one of your best ideas was it James?” said Tom playfully nudging his brother in law.
“Haha, very funny. How was I to know that Em would end up queuing ages for the loo”
“Stop it you two. I can’t help it if junior insists on pressing down on my bladder. He’s such a wriggler. Aren’t you my wee chap! “cooed Emily looking down at her bump.
By coincidence Emily and Susan had become pregnant at almost the same time. Whereas Susan and Tom knew the sex of their baby. James and Emily wanted to wait until the birth to find out. Emily though was convinced that it was a boy and referred to the baby nestled inside her as her wee chap. When the two of them had returned from South America they had returned to Liverpool and James got a job working for a charity and Emily went back to nursing. They lived in a small flat and money was tight but they were both very happy and couldn’t wait to become parents.
Ice creams eaten and two small mouths wiped clean. Susan kissed her mum on the cheek. “It’s time Mum”
“I know darling. Let’s get going. We don’t want to keep your father waiting.”
Susan looked concerned “Are you sure he’s up to this?”
“The hospital told him to go for it. We want to pack in as much as we can, whilst we can. We need this adventure. This time together. Just me and him”
“We did offer to pay for a five star all- inclusive second honeymoon in Corfu” chirped in Tom.
“You did and we were really grateful for the offer but can you really see Gordon staying in a hotel surrounded by lots of people who would no doubt irritate the hell out of him!”
Tom thought for a moment “Now you mention it,no. It was a bloody mad idea!”
“Tom language! Remember little ears”
Maggie looked down at the narrow gold band that sat upon her finger sandwiched between her wedding ring from their wedding day and her engagement ring. They had renewed their vows the day before at the small chapel on the island at St Ives. It had been a beautiful ceremony attended by just the family and Sally and Jez who had become close friends. For some months now Gordon and Jez had been working on a project together. Maggie knew about it but Gordon had refused to let her see how it was progressing.
Afterwards they bought fish and chips and ate them on the beach which had seemed like a good idea at the time until the seagulls got whiff of their meal and then proceeded to dive bomb the wedding party. Gordon got annoyed, scooped up everyone’s food, dumped it in the bin and frog marched everyone to the first restaurant that had space to take them all.
“Where are we meeting him exactly?” asked Susan
“in the carpark. He wasn’t very impressed that he’d have to pay to park when he was only going to be there for a short time but there was nowhere else to park. He’ll get over it!”
The small group walked over to the car park.
“There he is. Over in the far corner” said Maggie pointing to what looked like a giant pink marshmallow amongst the Audis, Seats and other sensible looking cars.
And there was Gordon standing outside the renovated VW van that Sally had said to paint pink so that they could always find it in busy carparks. Not only was it pink but also covered in flowers that Sally had painted. Across the top of the windscreen was a sun strip bearing the names Gordon and Maggie.
After a quick guided tour of their new home for the next few weeks,it was time to set off. The family hugged and kissed their farewells and waved off the newly re-wedded couple as they left the car park and joined the A30.
“Right Mrs Thornden, where to?” asked Gordon as he indicated right.
“John O’Groats. First stop Penzance.” Replied Maggie holding on to her seat for dear life as Gordon overtook the A1 bus narrowly missing an oncoming tractor.