Mitchell's Mustard Blog

November 7, 2013

The Tartan Blanket

Filed under: My Work — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — mitchellsmustard @ 5:30 pm

He spread the tartan picnic blanket out with care, making sure all corners were straight. Every year he used the same blanket to protect the importance of this tradition, it was used, washed then folded neatly and stored away until this day came around again. The tartan was laced with yellows and greens and over the years the colours had faded to give it a vintage look. He loved this blanket, not because of the colours, not because it was of an age, but because it was one of the first things that she had given him. He swept the loose mischievous blades of grass away with his hand, “she’ll be here soon” he told himself. Every year in the same spot this picnic was set, to a standard that she would approve.
The first time they discovered this spot was by chance. He had just moved to Cambridge and she came to visit. A romance by distance is hard for the strongest of relationships, but they were strong, she was his queen and nothing would stand in the way of that. They had spent the day walking around his new local area, stopping on a bridge that looked over the river Cam, they stood and they watched as the water passed below. He whispered love songs in to her ear to make her giggle, she was bashful about love. As he went to tickle her sides she ran to the steps next to the bridge, taking each one carefully in her heels. She made her way onto Jesus green and finally stopped, turning she expected him to still be on the bridge looking down at her, but he was hot on her tail. He took her by the waist, picked her up and spun her round as they both laughed. They eventually fell to the ground, laying on the grass entwined. They stopped laughing, they stared at each other, they smiled, they were in love. They spent that afternoon together sat on the bank of the river watching the water pass under the bridge, talking of future plans, not realising they would make an effort to watch the water pass this same spot on the same day each year. It was their spot.
He took a step back to view the layout of his affections, brushing his hands together as a sign of completion. Sitting down next to the picnic basket he considered opening the bottle of her favorite wine to accompany him while he waits, she wouldn’t have minded but he still felt that it would be rude to start without her. He tapped his fingers on top of the basket, some would think of it as impatient but she knew him better than that. He watched the river pass under the bridge, gently flowing past like that of his life, the occasional bit of debris twisting and tangling with its surroundings to give the water an uneven run. He sat, he watched, and he waited.
Each year they spent time at this spot talking about future plans, with each year that passed their plans became smaller but their achievements became bigger. She had moved to Cambridge, they lived in a small two bedroom house off Hills Road. The news that they were to become a family had come as a surprise, a good surprise. Nine months passed quickly and they welcomed Isabelle in to their lives, she was a quiet and adorable baby, giggles and brunette curls. The only thing that didn’t change from that moment on was the love this little family shared, his job, the money, their friends, it all spiraled around their beautiful little girl, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
He watched people pass by as he waited, the fruits of one existence viewing the many, remembering, romancing in the moment, and sympathizing. Loud disobedient children, just like their Isabelle had once been. The young and adventurous, who learn only by mistakes. Young couples holding hands, causing a smile to the happy, yet disapproving to the disgruntled lonely. And the old that take their time and refuse help, holding their pride higher than their health. He watched life, he waited, he smiled.
Isabelle grew quicker than they could have ever imagined, gone were the days of cuddles before bed, he missed the days of testing his imagination for a bedtime story, to watch her drift off to sleep as he explained how the prince and princess had met, or how they had saved their kingdom. He even missed pretending to eat and drink at one of her tea parties, he felt a little stupid when she insisted that they dine out in the street for all to see, but it was for her and he would do anything for her, that had never changed. Even through her troubled teens, the many broken curfews, the bad attitude, the long nights of waiting up for her to get home, in fear that something may have happened, dreading that phone call. He was never soft on punishment with her but he knew there wasn’t anything that he wouldn’t do for her, even when he was still upset.
He watched a Cambridge university rowing club across the river, synchronized movement by the crew pulling their racing shell from the clubhouse into the water without a hitch. This was a common pastime for many while sat on the bank of the river Cam, something he had watched with interest over years while he waited for her. He liked to reminisce about his wife, from the moment they met she was destined to occupy his mind, even when she wasn’t there. When he proposed to her he had sent the ring through the post to their home address so it wasn’t expected. He fondly remembered her face, how it turned from surprise, to a smile, to tears. She said yes as soon as she could find the words. Remembering the funny faces she used to pull at baby Isabelle to make her giggle when she thought he wasn’t watching, he never told her that he saw her.
She had started to lose a lot of weight, she looked drained. As stubborn as a mule but she knew something was wrong. By the time she had her first checkup, the cancer was diagnosed at its most advanced stage. That was the day it all changed, the day everything came crashing down. She closed up, his queen had become vacant, she had disappeared out of the back door, just leaving someone who looked like his wife behind. All communication had left, it took the playful smiles, the infectious laugh and her comical wit. A shell of the woman he loved, she had given up before the first bell, that’s what tore him apart the most.The last goodbye was the hardest part, to bury his queen, to be alone knowing that she will be waiting for him, alone.
He was staring at the water day dreaming when he felt movement next to him on the blanket, she had silently arrived. As he gazed at her his heart started to pound against his old and tired ribs. It had been three years and he missed his wife that little bit more every day that passed, she still occupied his mind, even though she wasn’t there. Caught in the right light, the resemblance was flawless, Isabelle looked like her mother. The same facial expressions that would always melt his heart. He loved spending time with his daughter, because little parts of his wife lived on in her. Just like her mother, she had grown to become an amazing woman. His heart swelled with pride.

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