A To Z

Entry by: Alobear

3rd January 2018
“A is for apple, B is for bear, C is for... critic… Um, D is for - despair?”

Confused eyes look up at me, their expression trusting even though their owner doesn’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

“Sorry, darling, my brain isn’t working very well today.”

Christie traces the large, ornate ‘D’ on the page.

“What’s despair, mummy?”

Oh dear. Might as well be honest. She’ll learn about it sooner or later. Maybe if she knows the word, she’ll be better prepared than I ever was.

“It’s when someone is very sad and feels like things will never be good again.”

“Are you very sad, mummy?”

I feel tears threatening. How does she do that? At the age of four, how can she cut right through any smokescreen I put up to the truth of the matter. Not that I’ve been blowing smoke very effectively lately. I’ve just introduced the concept of despair into her alphabet book, after all.

I close my arms about her and squeeze.

“Maybe a bit sad, sweetheart. But I always know things will be good because I have you.”

But with book sales so poor, and my literary reputation in tatters, how much longer will I be able to keep things good for her? Money was already tight and my hoped-for success is very much not in evidence.

“Ow, mummy, too tight!”

Christie’s plaintive voice brings me back to my surroundings. I loosen my grip on her and tickle her tummy to make her giggle. Such a bright, joyful noise. I can’t let that happiness die. Her father would jump at the chance to step in fix everything, but I can’t go to him. I’m not ready to admit defeat yet. I still have my pride, and I haven’t yet reached the point where I’m prepared to sacrifice it.

“But why are you sad, mummy?”

“People don’t like my book, and that makes me feel as if people don’t like me.”

She snuggles into my side, clutching my jumper.

“It’s okay, mummy. I like you.”

And that’s all there is to it, really. Christie is the only thing that’s truly important in my world. Everything else is incidental and I shouldn’t allow it to paralyse me. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep my daughter happy, healthy and give her everything she needs to succeed in life.

I reach for the newspaper.

“Let’s see what other words we can learn. A is for assistant, B is for barrista, C is for cashier…”