At yesterday’s writing group we were given yet another interesting writing prompt by facilitator Annette. Firstly she told us to think of someone from or primary school who didn’t really fit in, was on he edge of things, with whom we were no longer in contact. As that was me I decided to chose someone who made my early days at school better. Once we had identified a person we were to imagine what they might be doing now.
A day in the life of Helen.
Being with family for the weekend always raised thoughts of my previous life back in the village, and of those that I no longer knew of.
“Whatever happened to Helen from primary,” I wondered aloud as I channel hopped aimlessly through hundreds of channels finding nothing to grab my attention. My stomach rumbled in anticipation of the dinner to come.
“Helen?” Andrew, my brother asked. “And stop with the channel hopping, you’re giving me a headache.”
“Yes, Helen, oh, Helen thingumay, who used to live us Churchyard lane.” I replied throwing the remote at him.
“Bloody Witch,” Andrew threw the remote back.
“She wasn’t?” I asked, misunderstanding.
“No, you’re the bloody witch, look….” He pointed at the television. As an announcement came from the kitchen that dinner would be ready in ten minutes.
The channel I had left the television on was Sky News, a channel I usually avoided like the plague. The ticker across the bottom was describing someone who was doing good works in Africa with AIDS orphans. “What?” I couldn’t see what he meant.
“Watch… Shhh,” he told me gruffly.
As I watched the ticker running across the bottom of the screen suddenly Helen’s name came up. She was the person the ticker was talking about.
“That can’t be little Helen from our school, surely. Just a coincidence, although …” I grabbed my phone. “I’m going to google her.”
After a few minutes tapping apps and searching I found her, and to my enormous surprise found out that this amazing person truly was her. She even had a blog which I clicked on. The previous day’s entry popped up. I read it aloud…
“I’ve been here just over three months now, and still cry myself to sleep most nights. I’d never had the picture of it being the ideal place to work but FFS this place is closer to hell than any I’ve ever worked in before.
The good news today is that the meds arrived this morning. This will help ensure some of the children here live beyond ten years old. The bad news is that there are nowhere near enough to keep all the children healthy and alive. Someone will have to play god.
Little Jamala is very unwell today and her sense of touch in her feet has all but disappeared. For the last few days she has been complaining that her feet were burning up when in fact they were extremely cold to the touch. The lesions on her skin are worse and without a working X-ray machine we can’t see what they’re doing to her insides. From her lack of appetite and on and off delirium I fear that she is unlikely to last to the weekend. The cot she sleeps in will be empty for no time until the next little body occupies it.
The sound of the bombing came closer again last night. It gives me the terrors and I can’t sleep. Incredibly, the children seem numb to it all, which hardly surprises me. Their only releif from the horrors is to look inward.
We gave some of the more able children some of the toys that had been donated this morning after I’d done my rounds. For just a few seconds their eyes glowed and they played. It didn’t last long, it never does.
I’ve three more months of my contract here but how can I ever leave these kids, and babies to their fate? They are the forgotten ones, the ones that no-one will talk about. I think this is the saddest Christmas day ever, for me.”
Andrew had joined me on the sofa as I read it, so he too could see the Shocking pictures. “Bloody hell,” he commented on what I’d just read him and what we’d seen.
“Dinner’s ready,” came a cry from the kitchen.
We went through together, spirits low, neither of us hungry any more.