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Look at it Another Way

Although you stand and stare at the oranges and wish they would choose themselves, they cannot. You go on like everyone else. And although you feel so very alone you are not.
The man on your left holds a cabbage not knowing if this was the kind his wife used to buy.
‘Do I like these ones?’ he whispers.
The confident woman with the beautiful coat and expensive perfume who annoys the shattered young parents by whizzing too fast past the tiny pink baby clothes in case she breaks down and cries for the children she never had.
No… You are not alone.

But you never tell. They never tell. Strangers with trolleys and their other lives – dodging and ignoring, choosing and organising the life they are left with, such as it is. Sleepless nights, big empty beds, screaming babies, no babies, never any love, too much of the wrong kind of love, too much to do, nothing to do. Just coping… not coping. Pretending.

Of course, you tell yourself, you have suffered the most, no one hurts like you, they all have it so easy, more money, more support, more years, better health and you were unlucky.

On the other hand, who would you swap with? Who would you be if you could?
When you look at the man with the cabbage – do you want his despair? His beautiful cottage by the sea with the half-papered wall where his wife collapsed?
Do you want the children who never sleep and a marriage that cannot cope?
The wealth of a woman whose womb didn’t work and the husband who will work until his heart gives in?

Alternatively you can dress all in black, drive a mobility scooter, a wheelchair, pull a trolley carrying oxygen behind you. Wear a badge that says: “I hurt. Look at me. Do you care?”

However, the chocolate and the TV and the big blue sky and the baby in the buggy from a party who is telling his mother he sees a dog and the man who offers to take your trolley back for you and your favourite song on the radio when you get in the car and … a memory. A good memory. Things that mysteriously push at the back of your throat and awaken your spirits, keep the living just good enough…

Still. Just the same. Making do.

(This was a bit of a freewrite – of sorts. I gave myself the challenge of writing something that had paragraphs beginning with Although, But, Of course, On the other hand, Alternatively, However and Still.
I know you are not supposed to begin a paragraph with ‘But’, but I like breaking rules!)

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. I wondered about all the paragraphs beginning like that. No way to escape that getting cloying, but you harnessed the nuisance for the feeling of isolation and insisting against isolation.


    • Thanks John… Yeah – a bit unfinished and experimental. I was ill for three days, so no writing and behind with everything. In fact, I spent all day thinking it was Wednesday!
      Was determined to just do something


  2. This is a beautiful piece. I love to just freewrite and let it take me where it will.

    It captures the feeling of melancholy and loneliness I think we all feel sometimes very well. I could put myself right there in the story as if it were me there feeling it, and that it was my own voice inside my own head speaking to me from your words.


  3. I wondered where this was going. I’d just been looking at Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, and trying to decide if it was sexy or not… the symbolism of forbidden fruit… but that doesn’t mention cabbage.
    When I read the task you had set yourself I thought how clever of you to come up with anything at all.
    Well done.


    • Hi Mon,
      Nice to see you in my blog.
      Fancy Christina Rossetti not paying homage to cabbages! What is she like?


  4. Just popped in from the OU site. I love your blog. You have inspired me to start a different one. At the moment mine is poetry and I am the author of my writing circle one.

    By the way. I thought this piece of freewriting had been started on Write Invite as one of their prompts this week was “On the other hand”.

    Good Luck with the course. I can’t wait.


    • Hello Karen,
      Thanks for commenting.
      What a coincidence about the Write Invite prompt – that is seriously weird.
      Good luck to you too. I think it will be fun


  5. Fascinating story. I especially love “…screaming babies, no babies, never any love, too much of the wrong kind of love, too much to do, nothing to do.” Is anybody ever really satisfied with their lot?


    • Thank you, Kari.
      I’ve just had my first peek at your blog – it looks like an enjoyable read.


  6. Fascinating piece. You did an admirable job explaining how we all feel now and again (some of us more than others) and saying why it’s folly to want to trade lives with someone else.


    • Thank you. You have summed it up perfectly 🙂


  7. Absolutely love this. It really makes you think and I found it very emotional to read.

    “Unfinished”? Pah! It’s fab. So there.



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