Fallen Women

At last, your grandma wants to meet you.
   Youve imagined this moment for years, dreamt of it a thousand times a thousand. You can imagine it now. Grandma will open the door. For a moment youll both stare at each other. Then, shell hug you so tightly you wont be able to breathe. Youll have tears in your eyes and be lost for words, just like the people on those long lost reunion shows. The ones youre addicted to. The ones your husband hates.
   Were nearly there, you tell Katie. The house with the white fence, thats where great grandma and great grandpa live, at the top of the steep hill. 
   He wouldnt visit them not if you paid him. You tried to make him understand; it was the way things were in those days, back in the early sixties. What with the stigma. The shame. He said flesh and blood were more important than what the neighbours thought. And when you told him about the visit, he said they must be after something. You didnt mention the locket.
   You let go of Katies hand, This is it, this is the house.
   Now youre here, just for a moment you dont want to go in. The metal catch is rusty and you have to push open the gate with your hip. Ahead the pathway breaks into a courtyard with identical maisonettes either side. Stone archways hide the ground floor entrances and to the back of the buildings, concrete steps lead up to a first floor. You look at the netted windows on both sides, sure that someone is watching you.
   Your mother never left the house the whole nine months. But the neighbours knew; they knew everything in those days.
   An old man, wearing a cap and black overcoat, is coming from the archway on your right. How long had he lived there? Maybe he used to know your mother.
   ‘Afternoon,’ he says.
   Closing the gate behind him, he turns to look at you. You wonder if he’s guessed who you are.
   You enter the archway to your left. It is cold, even though the sun has been high in the sky all day. Musty air hangs in the dark; a muffled silence surrounds you. Tapping the brass knocker, you wait, as your mother waited, with you, all those years before.
   It was raining then, she had you wrapped up tightly. Your grandma stepped into the archway, pulling the door behind her. You cant bring the baby here, she said to your mother, I already told you that in the hospital.
   You kiss the top of Katie’s head and smell shampoo and the scent of her skin. You love her and would die for her. You’d never leave her or kill yourself like your mother did.
   A bolt is drawn back from behind the door and a blast of stuffy hot air hits you full in the face.

If you would like the read the whole story it is published in The Greenacre Writers Anthology Vol 2 available from Greenacre Writers


Anonymous said...

I have never met an unmarried mother YET, that was ever told her RIGHTS, which were the same entitlement terms and conditions as a widow, which were welfare allowance, housing, human rights,civil rights.No solicitor ever came to a mother&baby home to read us our rights..WHY was that you might add, we were brainwashed BY THE SYSTEM, the social wreckers loved when we were grounded down to OBEY THEM, also our so called "Christian" mother&baby homes,thats a laugh, we were INCARCERATED under a PENAL SERVITUDE REGIME. I watched over a short time almost every teenage mum, don the 'STOCKHOME SYNDRUM' mantle, as did I, after crossing the threshold, we were so terrified in those hellhole of places, we were societies filth says Judge Benjamin Lindsey, and we were treated as such. WOW...would that happen today..absolutely not, no one would put up with it for one minute, I could go on.MOTHERS NEVER GAVE UP THEIR BABIES, our babies WERE STOLEN FROM US, and we did die, the teenage girl I was then died, I am who I am today, all the HALLMARKS,LEGACY of loosing my baby permeated throughout my life and still controls it today, so we lost our babies and OURSELVES.

Anonymous said...

There is a legacy of guilt, sadness and anger which cools to bitterness after being forced to relinquish a child. I had no idea that I had any rights, in fact I only found out that I could have had money and been given accommodation about two weeks ago - over 40 years too late. We were just bad, we had failed, the arrival of our children was never celebrated and we were shunned, locked away and brainwashed into thinking we had no other choice but to give our child to strangers who would be 'better' parents. It shaped me too. It took away my confidence in myself as a parent, it robbed me of self-esteem. Yet no-one is accountable, not parents, the system, the church. We are somehow still to blame. It is so very wrong.