The Sandman

At last week’s writing group Annette’s prompt was a nursery rhyme. Each of the group chose a piece of paper, without looking, from an envelope with a nursery rhyme on it. Each of us had a differnet rhyme. We then each chose four words from a pile of flashcards to be included in the story. The story had to have as it’s base the rhyme we had chosen. I had chosen ‘The Sandman‘, and the words gold, fruit, adolescent and pregnancy.

This is my thirty minute story:


During her pregnancy  Danielle talked to her expanding belly as she imagined the growing child inside. Many times she simply related nursery rhymes quietly to it. She had heard that intelligence and imagination starts in the womb and wanted to give her child the best of starts. She always thought of the bump as him, but had no real clue as to which gender it may be.

Whenever bump became too energetic and she wanted him to rest she chose relaxing nursery rhymes, when she wanted to get the action going inside she told bump exciting or frightening nursery rhymes. And when she wanted him to sleep she recited lullaby-type nursery rhymes.  Her favourite for these sleepy moments was ‘The sandman’.

“The Sandman’s coming in his train of cars
With moonbeam windows and with wheels of stars
So hush you little ones and have no fear
The man-in-the-moon he is the engineer”

When bump entered the world he was indeed a boy. Danielle named him Casey, a name she associated with the Sandman’s train, steaming and a rolling, yet she often simply called him her little sandman.

Casey was a happy gentle child and Danielle’s work during her pregnancy seemed to have paid off. Wen she compared him to some of the other children of her friends he seemed to be streets ahead in so many ways.  At three he was able to solve puzzles some five or six year old children couldn’t manage.

When he started school a year earlier than normal he collected so many gold stars that the other kids, many of whom were at least a year older than him, started to resent him.  Despite the hurt that this caused him he remained kind and thoughtful, Just as his mum had made him.  He knew he was different from other children which worried him some, but his mum always told him different was special.

At eleven Casey moved on to the much larger school,  secondary school.  It was a short train ride from home and much more regimented than his primary school had ever been.  Casey didn’t like the change, but maintained his scholarly attitude and continued to get merit after merit.  He had a few friends that had moved with him from the little school but as the other kids at the new school started to pick on him those friends became fewer and fewer.

As an adolescent life was no better. Casey didn’t understand the changes in his body, but knew how they made him feel and that wasn’t how he wanted to feel.  His shyness increased and little by little he felt more and more isolated from his peers.  Being different no longer felt special. Being different sucked.

Almost every day on the train home, which was always a rowdy and generally unpleasant journey, Casey suffered some sort of nastiness.Although the journey was not a long one it was a hell every day in Casey’s mind. On Casey’s fifteenth birthday, which should have been a good day for him,  one of the older lads shouted down the carriage to Casey. “Hey Casey, you lost it yet?”

Casey knew the voice immediately. It was Jeremy, one of the worst of his tormentors. Casey knew that to not answer would lead to abuse, but to answer with the wrong answer would also get him ridiculed.  “Might have.” Casey plumped for non-commital.

“Might have? Might have? Don’t you fucking know, you camp little fruit. 15 and still a virgin.” Jeremy laughed as he spat out his words. Everyone in the carriage joined in with the laughter. Casey had no idea what was funny nor understood the nastiness.

Alison, the only friend he seemed to have these days, who always sat next to him on the train slipped her hand under Casey’s arm and pulled him closer. “Ignore them,” she whispered to him, then shouted down the carriage.  “Fuck Off you moron. You’ll only have lost it if someone put a bag over your head, and even then with yournasty little wiener it wouldn’t be worth the bother.”

“Got your girlfriend fighting your battles again,” Jeremy countered, ignoring Alison’s sleight, despite the laughs it caused.

“It’s never going to end is it?” Casey asked of Alison, holding back the tears.

“Don’t listen to them. They don’t really know you. Anyone who does loves you.” Alison held him.

At home that night Casey wanted to tell his mum what was happening to him every day at school, and how desperately sad he was. She still thought he was doing well and enjoying school. He was a consummate actor.  But he just couldn’t tell her, it was all too huge. Instead he slipped  quietly into his bedroom and slowly popped  the sleeping pills out of the wrapper.. Enough was enough.





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