No More Heroes

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

23rd June 2017
Part 2

(Part 1 in Ephemera from last week)

Sorry readers, a week flew by. So many stories came in last week on my blog about the NSD stone that I've had trouble keeping up. I was in the middle of writing a draft of the introduction for the book when life got in the way so I'm rereading to remember where I was when I left off.

Jane. That's right. Jane had just been given the rock, and I was sharing her e mail with you.

Here is the rest of it, and some more of my introduction. Hopefully I won't be interrupted this time...


One day, I was in a shop, the kids screaming, staring at a shirt I knew I wouldn't fit into. I'd had it. People were staring at me, I could feel it. And then this woman came up to me and gave me this rock. And as I held it, the world around me vanished. Gone were my two screaming children. Gone was the shop, gone was the shirt I was staring at. Best of all, the desperate feeling I had of 'I cannot do this' had vanished too. I was empty, peaceful, completely present in a calm white space. I was with myself. I could feel the cool of the rock against my fingers, I could see white around me, like clouds, I could feel nothing.

The clouds dispersed. I was in a park. I was sitting on a blanket, under a tree, sipping a cup of something herbal and healthy. And in front of me, playing with a bat and ball, were two children, aged about 11 or 12. 'Mum!' one of them yelled. 'Come on, your turn to bat!' They were my children, grown up, sun-kissed and tall, open smiles under happy eyes, buzzing with life.

I took the bat

and suddenly I was back in my house. The same house but oh so tidy and colourful, bookshelves along the wall instead of books in boxes, my carpet clean and hoovered, my husband dozing along the couch, my children sprawled on the floor reading books, giggling at things they read. It was a scene of utter bliss, the sort of bliss I imagined would be created by having a family instead of the mess and stress of my present life. I sat down and gazed at them all and the room and the house and felt the love

and then we were in the car driving somewhere, laughing at the radio, off on holiday, excited

and then I woke up in my bed knowing I'd slept the whole night, feeling rested and ready for the day. My children burst in and jumped on me and tickled me til I woke properly, and asked if they could make scrambled eggs for breakfast. My husband rolled over and pulled me into a hug and told me I'm a wonderful mum

and then we were having dinner and the kitchen was different, unrecognisable from the one we have now; surfaces still cluttered but with sort of arty clutter, not just piles of crap that I look at with increasing desperation and wonder how I'll ever get to the bottom of them.

All of this happened in seconds, Brian. Then the rock was pulled from my hands and I was back in the shop, my kids still yelling their heads off, the lumpy tiredness and black cloud back above me, and me feeling like the world had just shifted on its axis leaving me adrift, confused... but oddly happy. What had I just glimpsed? I did something then I hardly ever did: I laughed.

'That's right,' the woman said. 'It passes. And you're doing a good job, and whatever you saw, and felt, is where you're headed.' She put her head close to mine. 'I don't know how it works, but this stone shows you stuff. It shows you a possible future.'

'Possible?' I said, thinking, No, that is what I want. I don't want it to be possible; I want it to be definite.

'Possible, if you keep going,' she said. 'If you don't give up.'

I thought, she's a witch. She's seen into my head. She's from social services. They know I've thought about-

'It's okay,' the woman said. 'I am a friend. I saw you and I knew you were next. Don't ask me how; I don't know. This stone is now yours, and you've got to pass it on. When the time is right. You can use it one more time yourself, when you need to, but it won't work more than twice: trust me, I've tried.' She smiled a strange, sad little smile.

'Why did you have it?'

'I was diagnosed with cancer,' she said. 'This stone showed me what would happen.'

Her eyes brimmed, and she touched my shoulder. 'I didn't believe in fate, or destiny, or preordained life. But now...' She shook her head. 'You get one trip here. And when it's your time, it's your time. It's not yours, yet. And one day, sometime in the future, you'll find someone else who needs a glimpse. But here's the thing: we all die. We are all born. In between, what you make of it is up to you. My future isn't as long as I thought. But I go happy. The next bit is some of the best. And whatever you saw, that's coming to you. Just hang on. And the thing I've learned the most is there aren't any heroes who'll save you. You've got to be your own hero, every single time.'

She gave me a brief hug and was gone, disappearing into the shop and the rails of colours of clothes of mannequins grinning inanely at life, at me, at my children who were pulling shirts off the hangers, and giggling like little maniacs. I fought the urge to scream at them. I fought the urge to smack a tiny bum and drag them out of the shop. I looked at the shirt I'd wanted to try. 'Later,' I said to it. I bent down to pram level and my babies, my gorgeous cheeky toddlers, stared back, waiting for a telling off. 'Let's go for ice cream,' I said.

Their cheers as we left lifted me up high, pushed away the darkness just for a while and made me smile towards the future, at a future I had grasped, just for a second. A future that was mine, if I wanted it.

As we passed a card shop, I glanced at the sign in the window.

Mothers' Day is on the way! To mums everywhere, you are doing a good job. You are enough. You are often everything. You are amazing!

The stone heavy in one hand, the pram with my future in the other, I had nothing with which to wipe the tears that trickled down my face. I let them go and nodded at the window. 'Yes,' I said.

So Brian, you'll be wanting to know who I gave the stone to next. I carried it with me. I traced its engraving, NSD. Life was still a daily struggle but I went to the doctor, who didn't take my children away but said I needed a little help and gave me some antidepressants, and they filled the gaps in my mind and helped me cope better. Finally, I began enjoying motherhood the way I always wanted to and imagined I would. But the weeks and months passed and I didn't find anyone who I felt needed the stone. And what if I gave it to the wrong person?

Turns out I didn't need to worry. I was out with my husband one night. I'd not told him about the stone, as he is a very down to earth person who'd probably have me carted off to a nice soft room somewhere if I explained what had happened (or perhaps I doubted it myself, somewhere deep inside), and we'd just been out on a date night, which we tried to do once a month. The stone was heavy in my bag, pulling on my shoulder, in a way that I was used to, in a way that reminded me what was real, what I had coming my way. We were crossing the main bridge in town, Middlewood Bridge, when we saw a gathering of people up ahead. My husband tried to steer me across the road to avoid it but I strode on ahead, as if I was pulled.

As I approached, the people could be heard whispering and calling, phones beeping. I walked right into the middle of them. There was a space between the crowd and the railings. And there, on the other side of the railings, was a man, leaning out, hands behind him, staring at the water below. It wasn't a particularly high bridge, but the water below churned and frothed and rocks stuck up and I thought, he'll die. And the stone felt heavier in my bag and I took it out, knowing, all of a sudden. that this was the moment I'd been walking towards.

My husband tried to pull me back and yelled something at me but I ignored him, carried the stone to the railing and laid it against the man's hand. I'd no idea what would happen.

The stone was against the back of the man's hand. He was shaking all over and I was suddenly aware that if he moved the stone might fall and be lost forever. But he turned his hand over and grabbed it, so the stone was on the railings and I was holding the stone and he was holding the stone and there was some precarious balance going on between us; a small triangle poised between life and death and the future.

Nothing happened for a few seconds then he turned to me and his face smiled and I saw he was young, my age and good-looking, except for a long scar that ran the length of his face, from his temple to the corner of his mouth. He looked at me and we waited, caught in some magical moment where everything was somehow suspended with the water rushing and the crowd waiting and this silence around us, holding us in.

Then he laughed.

And without letting go of the stone he swung himself back over the railings, to the side that shouted LIFE. I put my mouth close to his ear and said, 'Be your own hero,' and he turned and looked a look that spoke of pain and love and loss for just a second, but it was enough. People cheered and there was a rush towards us and uniforms and the man was gone. And so was the stone.

Soon, we were alone, my husband and me. Between us there was this space, my half full of peace; his, half full of questions. We stepped into it and he pulled me into a hug.

'What the hell... was that?' he said.

I took a deep breath. 'Let's go for a sun downer, and I'll tell you a story,' I said.

That's my tale, Brian. Put it out on your blog and let's see if anyone else has been touched by this strange, unexpected magic. I hand it over to you.

Regards and love, from one part of this strange life to another,

So there you are, ladies and gentlemen. That's the end of my introduction and the beginning of my book. Let me know what you think - drop me a comment in the boxes below, share my blog to other sites and let's see how many comments I can get. I'm not a writer, but I seem to have a compulsion to write. I want this story to get out because it is one of hope. Let me know what you think of the intro.

Yours, B.

Part 3 next week!