Her name was Sally Ann Thompson. Her favourite colour pink. She liked to write. It emptied the thoughts from her head, so she said.
It was her birthday, sweet sixteen. I came along in a beautiful rose pink box with a satin ribbon, and when she unwrapped me, there I was laid on a piece of cerise satin waiting to be revered. Yes, she loved me. One of her favourite presents, and I was happy with that.
A chubby little pen with black polka dots, rather proud of my look, I was.
Time passed, in fact years passed and she still kept me in the proverbial box. What a load of nonsense that was. Sally Ann thought it was the right thing to do. But I would have appreciated more freedom. I was born to write.
I realised that sometimes in life people have these strange notions about keeping things for best. Well what’s the point in that? Isn’t beautiful meant to be enjoyed? And I was beautiful, but wasted. Get me out of this dreaded box I kept muttering. Not that anyone heard me. Humans don’t hear pen talk, now do they?
So time passed and I lingered endlessly in the flipping box. Then suddenly there was talk of a celebration. And you guessed it. It warranted a signature, so I was out of the box into a small clutch purse, and out of the door with a host of giggly young women. Graduation Day! It turned out to be quite spectacular. I was ecstatic. Yeah! Freedom!
After that I began travelling.
Sally Ann went to University training as a lawyer. I signed lots of interesting and exciting documents. I was beginning to feel rather important, and thought I better be careful not to get too big for my boots. Not that I wear boots, but you know what I mean. And then, something horrible happened.
Sally Ann Thompson went out on a date. Hum! If only I could have chosen for her. What an idiot he was. But then there was a second date. And another and another, until she was using me to make guest lists, and more. She had succumbed to his charm. Needless to say they were married. Blast!
If only I could have warned her.
I knew it wouldn’t last.
I knew something was desperately wrong when she was out one evening and had left me on the desk in the study. His mobile rang and I didn’t like the tone of the conversation. Then I heard the words. I’m coming for you. Where are you? He picked me up and scribbled some notes.
He’d been having an affair. The husband of the woman, having discovered what was going on had thrown her out. A few clothes, ten year old daughter and the family dog. Hum!
Whilst I was concerned about the welfare of the child and the dog, I didn’t care about the woman. And what about poor Sally Ann? She would be devastated. Added to which Sally Ann was now pregnant. Nearly eight months to be precise. I dare not imagine what was going to happen next. But what did happen astounded me beyond even my wildest imagination.
He returned to the house with the woman, the child and the dog. Only to greet Sally Ann with the news this was a woman from the office and his boss Gerry had asked if he could accommodate her for the night as a favour, just until he returned from his business trip and could source a hotel. How difficult is it to source a hotel? Come on now!!
What a load of rubbish! And didn’t someone say if you’re going to tell lies make them at least sound plausible? At first, Sally Ann was taken in with the ridiculous fabrication. Oh love can be so blind!
Very pointedly the phone rang. Sally Ann answered. ‘It’s Harry,’she shouted. ‘He needs to check your availability for the golf club.’
‘Harry it’s difficult to speak now, give me the dates and I’ll check the diary and get back to you,’ he replied sounding agitated.
‘What’s wrong with you mate? Someone ruffled your feathers?’
The phone went down quickly, conversation over.
It soon rang for a second time. Sally Ann answered again.
‘Sorry to be a pain. It’s me! I made a mistake with one of those dates.’
‘I’ll write it down,’ she exclaimed, trying not to be rude. It wasn’t his fault her house had just descended into chaos. She suddenly lost the connection and instinctively went to ring him back, pressing re-dial last number instead of last call received. Of course it was the wrong number. ‘Harry?’
‘Oh, I do apologise. I must have miscalled.’
‘Actually your caller ID is familiar. Who is that?’
‘Is that Sally Ann.’
‘Yes, who is this? How do you know my name?’
‘Oh you could say I’ve been doing my homework recently. You’re married to Barry Thompson. Is that right?’
‘I’m sorry but I don’t know you. This is bizarre. I don’t even know how I came to ring you.’
‘I suspect your husband has just picked someone up from an address near Kings Cross.’
‘That’s my wife. Is my daughter with her and Hubert?’
She didn’t hear the rest as he spoke of the two year affair. She walked slowly and meticulously into the living-room. The child was asleep on the sofa, as was the dog.
‘How do you know my husband?’ she asked.
‘We met at the golf club.’
‘Oh, I thought he said you were a work colleague.’
‘Ergh, that too and ….’
‘I think enough said. Your husband is Stephan and you have been having an affair with my husband for the past two years. He found out and dumped you at Kings Cross. Is that right? If you didn’t have a child with you I’d kick you out of my house right now. I don’t even like dogs! You’ve got seven hours until day break and then out. And you with her,’ she screamed in Barry Thompson’s direction. ‘So you may as well start packing now. Seven hours!’
Sally Ann stormed into the kitchen, opened the best bottle of red wine she could find, poured so much into the glass, it slopped over the rim and gulped the lot, collected a few belongings and left the house. A small bag, including her note book and me of course. I was one fearful pen thinking she was going to drive when she picked up the car keys. A huge sigh of relief on my part when she set off walking the short distance to her friend Maggie’s house.
There was no-one home. No answer on the mobile either.
A scribbled note. Ring me ASAP.
After sitting on a bench for what felt like an eternity, contemplating her circumstances she didn’t even feel the chill of the night air. She was carrying his baby, what was in his mind?
All was quiet when she crept back into the house. Could they sleep at a time like this? Sitting in the large velveteen old fashioned arm-chair that she so loved, the one she had inherited from her late grandmother, she snuggled under a blanket, eyes closed but wide awake.
As morning dawned, the dog barked then peed. Shouldn’t he have waited till someone opened the door?
The child woke asking for daddy. And Barry Thompson appeared looking red eyed, as though he had aged 10 years overnight. She didn’t care.
Everyone left silently, colliding with Maggie in the entrance.
‘What’s going on?’ Maggie asked.
‘I need help,’ whispered Sally Ann holding back the tears. ‘I’m just about to become a single parent, but I’m not the first and I won’t be the last. Will you help me get all these out please?’ She began stuffing all Barry’s belongings into bin bags. ‘Then I need to write down the name of a good lawyer and make an orderly list of everything I have to do.’
‘You’re a lawyer,’ exclaimed Maggie.
‘Yes, but I’m not taking on my own case now, am I?’
Maggie had absolutely no idea what was going on and waited for an explanation.
‘How about I make a cup of tea?’ She asked.
‘Later Mags, later.’
I was going to be busy.
She began writing. Making her lists. It emptied the thoughts from her head.
Maddie Joe Thompson was born prematurely, life moved on and she never met Barry Thompson. He moved away, started a new life, probably with the woman, the child and Hubert the dog.
She grew into a fine girl with a creative mind, and one thing she did habitually was write in her journals. No one read them or even took any notice, but Maddie continued to write. Her feelings and emotions were expressed in sketches, doodles, scribbles and poetry.
It was a struggle without a father. She needed someone to identify with. Her mother didn’t date, somewhat of a workaholic she had become. Maddie looked at the other kids at school who seemed to have complete happy families. Spending hours home-alone as her mother worked – she became depressed.
I wanted to help her, but how could I? Humans don’t hear pen-talk, now do they?
I was no longer Sally Ann’s pen. Not since the day I ended up in Maddie’s school bag.
As she suppressed her emotions, the bubbly, effervescent character deep within struggled to surface, her mind went into chemical chaos.
Wrong choices led to misdemeanours, anti-social behaviour, smoking and dabbling with drugs. Her life was on a slippery slope with destruction it’s signpost.
As Sally Ann wondered how she had missed the signs. Indeed how do we all too often in life not see what is very present?
There was work to be done and as Maddie approached the tender age of sixteen with the help of a great support network, she was able to take hold of her life and re-evaluate its direction before it was too late. The shocking incident of one of her peers taking an overdose was the catalyst.
With help from me of course, she took full ownership and began the renewing of her mind. Toxic thoughts were banished, health and well being surfaced. Together we wrote with such creativity that people began to notice her gifting.
Her short stories won competitions and were suitably recognised.
Ultimately, she was invited to talk about the inspiration behind her writing on the local TV network.
Maddie Joe became an inspiration to all young people as she very capably turned her negativity, the grief and disappointments that she had felt in her young years, into a positive mindset.
She discovered such a love of writing. It emptied the thoughts from her head.
It was her healing. It was therapeutic.
And I was busier than ever!
Anna Mckann March 2019