Middle Of Nowhere

Entry by: Mac

9th September 2016

At the age of nine and a quarter, Daisy Morningstreet was –
“I’m nine and a half … almost.”
“I was looking over your shoulder … you’ve got my age wrong.”
“Well, it might not be about you,” – I was becoming defensive and a little belligerent.

“Well, it’s about a girl, she’s almost my age and she’s got my name”. Her triumph was palpable.
I began again: At the age of nine and a quarter – sorry, nine and a half … almost – Daisy Morningstreet –
“You don’t need to include “almost” …. It’s silly. What are you doing anyway?”
“I’m trying to write a short story,” I said, trying to disguise my irritation. She raised her eyebrow and gave me the frown that I have known since her birth. She remained silent and I found myself babbling, trying to explain.

“Daisy … darling. It’s a story. It’s my story. It happens to be about a girl who … yes, strongly resembles you. I thought it could be fun and interesting.”
She continued frowning as she spoke “Well … I’m not fun. Though I am interesting,” she conceded. I couldn’t argue with that. She was – is – well, eccentric.
”No I’m not!”
“OK! I’ll delete it. How about intriguing? Unusual? Unconventional?”
She beamed with satisfaction.
“Weird!” I grinned and the eyebrow went up again. I felt chastened and my finger hovered over the delete button.

Daisy Morningstreet had decided to organize a Village Olympics, for children from the villages in the valley. She had enlisted her brother, Jimble, who was keen to include home-made go-karting, skateboarding and anything that didn’t involve heights. Peovil-on-Sea was fielding two teams, it being the largest of the villages. Organized by Daisy and her friends, they’d kept it a surprise – not a single adult knew.

“That’s wrong. You know!” Daisy exclaimed.
“You know and you’re an adult. You’re writing this!”
“I’m making it up! It’s fiction.” I cried. She could be infuriating.
“You’re making it up about me! And I’m not fiction. And actually I am organizing something,” she declared triumphantly.
“I’m not telling you … you’re an adult. And in all the best children’s stories, the children keep a secret from the adults.” There was that frown again. No wonder her mother had a complete breakdown and was now confined to an asylum.
“No she’s not! She’s in the kitchen. Making cakes. You’re telling fibs just to make your story interesting. And I don’t think mummy would like it. Neither do I!”

Now, so far there were eight teams, a date and a few ideas for events, though nothing was settled yet. That’s because they hadn’t yet decided on a place to hold it and, of course, the weather was uncertain. The event was going to be held in November.

“I’ll bet she wants dolls in it, somehow. Dolls as mascots or something,“ Jimble complained. Jimble was lying on the sofa, feeling very sorry for himself and grumbling. He’d fallen off his skateboard and broken his leg. It meant that he would not be able to take part but Daisy had offered him the consolatory task of record keeping. He was not happy about it.

It seems so long ago now since he used to cuddle his new-born sister and declare “My Daisy!”
“Yuk!” exclaimed Daisy. “You can delete that bit. It may be true but it’s unnecessary.” Jimble shuddered. “Most of the time he couldn’t take his eyes off the TV. Daddy said.” I gazed at Daisy and tried to imagine if there could ever be a more demanding child.
“My mother! You told me so. Do you have to write this stuff in your story?! If you’re going to write about the Village Olympics, just do it, grandad.” And that’s how I gave up writing. She drove me to it. Total despair.
“It isn’t despair, it’s exasperation. Despair is an existentialist –“
“I’m just helping you to be specific, grandad. If you can identify your feelings correctly, you can seek to understand them better.” Sometimes I wish she’d just play with dolls like any other nine your old girl.
“She doesn’t like dolls,” interjected Jimble, “she thinks they’re immature. She has them but she doesn’t like them.”
“I’m nine and a half … almost.”

So there will be no story about how Daisy and Jimble organized the Village Olympics and the fun everyone had.
“Sentimental twaddle, anyway,” sighed Jimble.
“Defeatist!” declared Daisy.
My god! What did I do to deserve grandchildren like these? All I wanted to do was to write a charming story and have them figure in it. Instead, I am going nowhere fast.
“You can’t go nowhere … fast or otherwise. Because it’s nowhere …. Therefore it isn’t anywhere. How would you know when you reached it?” Daisy had that triumphant scowl – again.

Jimble occupied himself with his computer game, muttering to himself, “Going nowhere means you’re not moving. You’re where you are which is here … not nowhere,” he muttered.
“Thank you Jimble,” I sighed. “You’re right Daisy. It’s an odd idea – nowhere. Perhaps it simply means one has no direction.”
“But you said you were going … going nowhere. Going implies direction. Make up your mind, grandad!” Daisy could turn triumphalism into an art form.

So, like I said – that’s how I gave up writing the story. Daisy and Jimble stopped reading over my shoulder. He returned to his games, hopping on one leg because he couldn’t be bothered to use his crutches, and she turned to the dolls she didn’t like. She was arranging them and then rearranging them in some kind of order that I didn’t understand.
“I’m trying to prove the limits of the Fibonacci Sequence – with dolls. And our story wasn’t that charming. Oh … and as for deserving grandchildren: you don’t. You simply get them – and get what arrives. Me!” Her victory was complete.

The phone rang and I picked up, grateful for the respite from my demonic offspring.
“Hello? Grandad? It’s me – Stirling.” He’s my grandson in Australia. I was overwhelmed and delighted – at last, some sanity. A lovely boy.
“I’ve run away from home!” He said it with pride.

“Oh my god! Why?! Does your mum know? Where are you? I’ll call your dad and get him to fetch you.” I was frantic with worry. My story paled into insignificance. “Stirling, you’re nine - you can’t run away. Is something wrong?”
“He’s nine and a half … six weeks older than me. Of course he can run away.” Daisy had an impeccable gift for logic. Jumble nodded his agreement and contemplated the logistics of running away with a broken leg.

My knowledge of my daughter in Australia and her husband as lovely caring parents suddenly began to falter under questions of their capability and competence. Were they struggling with things I didn’t know about? Has it all become too much for Stirling, striving to understand the adult world with the mind of a child?
“I have the mind of a child,” whispered Daisy. I just looked at her, speechless.
“There’s nothing wrong, grandad … I just wanted to try it. See what it’s like. You know … adventure!”

I did know. I now knew that I had three monsters, not two. Daisy put her finger on my hand and raised her eyebrows. But she kept silent. Thank God.
“OK, Stirling … where are you?”
“I don’t know. In the middle of nowhere.” And he laughed. I knew how he felt.
“You can’t have got far, love. Give me some clues.” He’d left home three hours previously. Snuck out after they’d all gone to bed. It was the middle of the night there right now. He’d climbed into the back of a truck. He hadn’t phoned his parents because he didn’t want to wake them. Could it get worse?! Daisy raised an eyebrow as if she was about to answer that question. Jimble smiled and laughed demonically.
“Well …. What kind of clues, grandad?”
“Tell me what you can see.”