Hello, I am taking part in NaNoWriMo 2019. For those of you who don’t know NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. (I guess it should be called InaNoWriMo as it is now International!) The idea is to write a novel length story (at least 50000 words) in one month (so at least 1667 words a day for 30 days). Last year I took part and “won” (ie I wrote over 50k in a month). This year I am going to give it another go.
As I did last year I will use @MarianneWest’s daily freewrite prompt as a starting point (so each day I will use themostdangerouswritingapp.com and write for 5 minutes with @mariannewest’s prompt in mind. I will then write another 1500 odd words and publish it on the blockchain so you can see what crap I come up with!
Today is 2nd November 2019 and I am using yesterday’s prompt to write the second chapter of my story
I won't lie to you. Today was tough. I wrote the freewrite before 7am and then avoided it (I think I wrote another 300 words). I almost gave up. But I didn't and I managed to splurge another 1300 words after 8pm tonight.
Today’s prompt is:
If you are interested you can find the previous Chapters here One
It was cold. Phil, his bag held to his chest, shuffled his feet, trying to keep warm. He looked at his watch. Five minutes after the last time he had looked. The bus should be here. They were due to leave in ten minutes.
To while away the waiting time, standing in the queue in the rather dark and smelly bus station, Phil decided to try to visit his happy place. It was a technique Mandy, one of the assistants at the Riverside had taught him. It wasn’t the kind of thing he would have entertained doing before. But Mandy had said it was a good way of dealing with stress and he had reluctantly tried it and had found that she was right. And, he found, it helped him feel more connected to Lily.
He closed his eyes and shut out the sounds around him, the whispered conversations and complaints of the people surrounding him, the engines of the buses that chugged noisily, waiting for their passengers to climb aboard.
And there he was, sitting in the community garden. His happy place. At least, it had been once. Now, he guessed, it was a more of a garden of remembrance.
He could see the neat beds of roses, that Jeff, the gardener, kept pruned and well-manured, the grass as short and patchy as Phil’s own hair. He was sitting on the bench at the far end of the garden. The bench where he and Lily had sat, winter as well as summer, watching the birds eating the fat ball that Lily had tied to the bird table. He pulled his bag more tightly to his chest. His eyes fluttered beneath the lids and suddenly he could feel her sitting next to him. He could almost smell her perfume float in the crisp morning air. He could feel the cloud of her breath against his neck as she spoke, he felt her hand take his.
"I love you, Phil Osman."
"And love you, Lily Osman."
This was their bench. Not officially, of course. He didn’t own it. There was a plaque on it that was dedicated to the memory of someone called Mrs Opel. Phil and Lily often talked about Mrs Opel, wondering who she was, what she was like. And whether she minded them sitting on her bench. The bench might not have belonged to Phil and Lily, but all the other residents referred to it as the Osman Love bench. It was their place and they were rarely disturbed, especially in winter.
"I don't know why you two love birds go all the way down the bottom of the garden, In this weather," Old Kathy Simons said on more than one occasion. From her spot by the window of her room Kathy could have just about seen them if she had only got her cataracts seen to (“No one is coming near my eyes with a scalpel, thank you very much!”).
“Oh, Kathy,” Lily had said. “It is so peaceful there. You could imagine you were in the middle of the country. You’d never guess the main road was on the other side of that wall. It is nice to get some fresh air. You should try it sometime.”
“You can keep your fresh air, young woman.” Kathy always called Lily young woman even though in reality she was only three years older than her. “I’d rather be inside, nice and warm with a nice cup of tea.”
Lily had laughed when Kathy said that, and the sound lifted Phil, as it always had done. It was Lily’s laugh that he missed the most.
They had moved into the retirement home when Lily was first diagnosed with dementia. It was diagnosed early as Lily had Phil watching for signs for years. Phil had wanted them to stay in their own home, but Lily had been adamant.
“I’m going, Phil. You can come and live with me or you can visit me if you like. I spent years looking after my mother, remember. And yes - before you say it - I know you did too. But I know how this illness develops. There is no way I am putting you through it on your own. It was hard enough with the two of us looking after Mother. We move now, I’ll get used to it before things get too bad. There will be support for you too.”
Typical Lily. Always thinking about the impact on other people. They had no children, no one they wanted to leave anything too when they left, no one to argue with about them spending the inheritance. So they sold the house they had lived in for almost forty years and moved to Riverside Community, just a few streets away.
“Why is it called Riverside?” Phil asked the manager when he was being shown around the garden. “The river is five miles from here.”
The manager - a large man called Stan who had a face that reminded Phil of a beagle he had owned as a child - looked a little guilty. “We just thought it sounded nice,” he said.
“It does sound nice,” Lily said. She gestured around the garden. “It is nice. It’s perfect.”
Lily was right - she usually was - as the illness progressed the Community provided more assistance. And the company of the other residents helped Phil during the periods when Lily was less lucid.
As the illness took hold Lily became less and less mobile and before he knew it Phil had to wheel her out into the garden. Lily had lost her ability to form coherent sentences by this point and they would sit in silence listening to the birds until Lily became too agitated or cold and Phil wheeled her back to the safety of the home.
Soon it became unpractical for Phil to wheel his wife out to their bench. He would go sit by himself, and then would tell Lily which birds he had seen at the bird table.
The night Lily died - after the doctor had been - and then the funeral director, Phil had put on his thickest coat and walked down to the bench. There he had sat for maybe an hour, tears streaming down his face. He felt guilty because he was glad it was over. He had said goodbye to his wife many months ago, the woman she had become was not the woman he wanted to remember.
The staff and the other residents assumed he would want to scatter Lily’s ashes around the garden or bury them underneath the bench. But as much as Lily had enjoyed the garden that was not the place Phil wanted her to be. He wanted to remember her as she was when they had met. He was going to take her there.
“We can make arrangements for the ashes to be delivered to Riverside Community,” the funeral director told Phil. Phil had shaken his head.
“No,” he said. “I’ll collect them.”
Phil was shaken from his memories as someone - pulling another someone - pushed past him, nudging him and the bag.
“Do you mind?” he said, pulling the bag to his chest. The couple - a man in a hooded top and a young woman - didn’t appear to mind one little bit. They had shoved their way to the front of the queue and climbed up the steps onto the bus ahead of everyone, including an obviously heavily pregnant woman who they had also elbowed out of the way.
Really! No one seemed to have any respect these days.
People tutted and muttered but no one stopped them. The bus driver didn’t seem to care, just scanned their tickets and let them on the bus. The people in the queue all shuffled forward, and a young man with a ponytail and tattoo on his neck helped the pregnant woman with her baggage. Phil’s mood lightened. There were still some decent people in the world. Even if they did make unfortunate hair and skin decisions.
Eventually, it was his turn to pass his ticket to the driver. “Good evening,” he said as he passed it over. He checked his watch and chuckled. “I should say, ‘good morning’!”
The driver said nothing and handed the ticket back holding out his hand to the man standing behind Phil. Phil stood there for a moment.
“You do know manners are free, young man?” Phil said.
The bus driver looked at Phil, his expression blank.
“Move along the bus, please sir. You are holding up the other passengers.”
Phil looked at the man standing behind him, who raised his eyebrows and made a shooing motion with his hands. Phil sighed and moved along the bus. The young woman and her rude boyfriend - or whatever he was - were taking up the six seats at the back off the bus. The man had removed his hood and was sprawled across two seats, his girlfriend sat next to him, with their bags on the other side of her. Phil stood in front of them.
The man looked up. “Why? What have you done, granddad?” He smirked and winked at the girl.
“I’d like to sit down. Would you mind moving your bags?” He directed his inquiry to the young woman, ignoring the man.
“What’s wrong with those seats there?” the man said, sitting up and pointing to the two empty seats just in front of the ones he was sitting on. “Or those? Or any of the other six or seven you walked past to get to me?”
“I’d like to sit there,” Phil said, pointing at the seat by the window on the other side of the bags.
“Well, tough!” the man began standing up.
“It’s okay, Billy,” the girl said, reaching over and removing one of the bags. “There’s plenty of room for the gentleman to sit down. Leave him alone. It’s late and he looks like he could do with a rest. We all could.”
Billy looked as though he was going to say something but the girl shot him a look and he changed his mind.
Phil thanked the girl, who introduced herself as Marlie, and shuffled in to take the seat on the far side by the window. He placed the bag containing the small urn that contained the ashes of his dead wife on his lap and sat back.
“Would you like me to put that up there for you?” The girl - Marlie - was pointing to a luggage rack above his head. Billy was staring out of the window, shaking his head.
“No thank you,” Phil said. “I would rather keep her with me.”
“Her?” Marlie looked confused.
“My wife,” Phil said, pulling the zip slightly and showing Marlie the top of the urn. “May I introduce you to Lily? Lily this is Marlie.”
Marlie looked a little lost.
“That’s all we fucking need.” Billy said. “Why do you always attract the nutters, Lie?”
As usual, I started with the freewrite prompt and used themostdangerouswritingapp.com to write the first five minutes (and then popped it into google docs to check for errors and tidy it up a bit):
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