A Sharing hand

Posted: July 30, 2010 in #fridayflash, Diaries of a Childminder's Child, Short stories

Lucy walked down the busy, dusty pavement, the road bursting at the curb with traffic and commotion.  She walked slowly behind her mum who was occupied in ‘grown-up’ chat with her friend, whilst the other children were either walking by their sides, or running off in front and hiding behind trees. “That’s my mum’s hand she’s holding,” Lucy thought to herself.  She understood the meaning of sharing and that mum had to keep the other children safe, but she wasn’t expecting to have to share her mum’s hand of all things.

“Some of the children feel insecure and would prefer their mums were walking them to school, rather than their childminder,” Lucy’s mum said before the Monday morning ‘drop-off’ of children.  “By holding my hand they feel safe and assured.  You’re just going to have to share Lucy!”

Lucy did share.  She shared her house, her toys, the family television, her bedroom, her school holidays, even her non-immediate family sometimes, but she didn’t expect to have to share her mum’s hand.  Her mum had the accurate number of hands for her children.  Lucy’s younger sister Jasmine had one hand and Lucy had the other.  But now, she was the one beginning to feel insecure.

Her mum had taken up childminding when Jasmine had started nursery school. Lucy was seven.  Her mum had decided she’d rather be there for her girls growing up, but also needed to work, so childminding seemed the most viable option. But Lucy had never been very keen on the idea and was struggling with adjusting to her new lifestyle. 

The novelty of friends at your house all the time soon wore thin with Lucy.  Her toys got broken, her house was never her own (or quiet) and worst of all she could not get to grips with sharing her mum.  The hand holding issue grew in Lucy’s head as the weeks went on, like a small gremlin hiding in the back of her head.  “She’s holding your mum’s hand again Lucy,” it would whisper, whilst scratching the inside of her eardrum.  Although her mum tried to share her hands fairly each day, it still grated on Lucy, like a pummel stone chaffing her skin each time she witnessed the harmless act. 

“When I die,” her mum said looking down at Lucy who was holding her hand in the playground, early one morning, “I’ll get them to cut off my hand and stuff it especially for you!” she said, looking at her friend and they both laughed.  Lucy didn’t find it funny.  Her mum had a valid point and the fear of her mum dying suddenly struck her.  And who were ‘they’? And why would they have the rights to cut off her mum’s hand?  She had an image of getting up for school one morning and seeing her mum’s hand displayed on a wooden plinth on the kitchen counter.  The image stayed with her all day. 

Walking home that afternoon, Lucy sneakily kept glimpsing down at her mum’s hand to look for anything she could use to identify her mum’s hand, if it was cut off.   Her mum’s hands were smooth and just the right size for a mum’s hand.  Her nails were perfectly formed and shiny, like seashells glistening ever so slightly in the light.  Each nail was surrounded by pink raw skin where her mum would frantically bite at it, (a strange tactic to prevent her from biting her actual nails).

Lucy was very sensitive to other people emotions and moods.  She tended to try and find small areas in the house or garden to sit quietly on her own.  Although her mum accused her of sulking, Lucy merely needed time to herself to gather her thoughts and find her bearings.  The cupboard under the stairs was a good place, as she could hide behind the coats and pretend she was living in a cave.

*  *  *

“I’m holding your mum’s hand tonight” Jenni said through an innocent but stern smile during playtime. Jenni was a ‘full-time’ girl Lucy’s mum was minding, the same age as Lucy.  She would often make comments to Lucy when no-one was in ear shot. 

Lucy began to panic, as if she was underwater and someone had turned off her oxygen tank on purpose.  What if her mum did die, Lucy wouldn’t have been the last one to hold her hand.  Did that mean the last child to hold her hand would automatically get the hand on a plinth?  She had to think of a plan. 

The walk home that evening was a long one, with Lucy trailing behind her mum watching as Jenni held ‘her’ hand.  Like an ant on jam, she held the hand so tightly.  When they arrived home Lucy went to her room to get changed.  As she took off her uniform and folded it into piles, she had an idea. 

That evening Lucy had set her alarm clock for midnight.  When the alarm went off, Lucy crept out of bed and along the landing to her parent’s bedroom.  She didn’t like the dark, especially when it was windy outside.  The trees shadows moved and whistled, like ghosts in the night.  She could hear her dad snoring like a big grizzly bear in a cartoon.  She quietly opened the door.  She crept inside, walking on tiptoes and in slow motion, avoiding the creaky floorboards.  Her mum’s hand was on top of the duvet and as both parents slept soundly Lucy began her mission. 

*  *  *

“Luuuuuuuuuuucy!” she heard her mum bellow from her bedroom.  Lucy pulled the covers over her head as if they were a magical shield or invisible blanket.  Her mum’s soft but forceful footsteps came along the landing towards Lucy’s bedroom. 

“Lucy!” she said sternly, now at the bedroom door “What on earth were you thinking?”

Lucy pulled the covers so just the top of her head and one eye was able to look out onto the dilemma.

She muttered from under the covers, “You always put name tags on my school uniform, so if I loose it, people know who it belongs to.  I just wanted to make sure everyone knows that’s my hand if you die”. 

She spoke very matter of fact and as if her point was not only valid, but totally justified.  She looked at her mum’s hand and a satisfied smile grew on her face.  The name Lucy was written in black permanent marker all over her mum’s right hand and wrist, overlapping and in lots of different sizes. 

“The right hand is my favourite” she reassured her mum.

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Comments
  1. brainhaze says:

    This is a story from a collection called Diaries of a Childminder’s child. Everyone has opinions and views of children being in nursery and day-care to enable parents to go back to work and how it effects them in later life, but not many think of the children whose parents are those minders or carers and how it effects them. These stories are a mix of fiction and non, exploring Lucy who is 7 when her mum became a childminder. Each story follows her and her sister through different issues and events of being a Childminders child.

  2. I like the perspective here. I like the way the story sort of rolls along. I half-expected Lucy to chop her mom’s hand off in the night trying to keep it for herself (sorry, horror writer), but what a sweet thing to emblazon her name on it instead. Very enjoyable!

  3. lil_monmon says:

    Nice read. I remember when my Mom did child minding for a short stint before deciding that my brothers and I needed the attention. You captured the childish fears very well, along with that ability to a child to take things out of context. Well done!

    small note: It’s Pumice Stone, not Pummel Stone.

  4. T.S. Bazelli says:

    I was also worried that Lucy would slice off her mother’s hand! The ending was a relief and brought a smile to my face.

  5. marc nash says:

    LOve the way something so small and insignificant takes on such massive importance in the view of a little girl. Spot on.

    You spelled ‘loose’ instead of ‘lose’ near the end

  6. Gracie says:

    You really caught the voice of the little girl. The ending was sweet and funny, exactly something a little kid would do.

    Well done, and a great story.

  7. Vandamir says:

    Captured the emotions of a neglected and anxious child perfectly. Beautiful story with a cute ending. :)

  8. Rachel says:

    A moving reminder that we often do and say things without thinking to explain to our little ones, leaving them to make sense of everything in slightly erroneous ways. Very sweet (again!)

  9. donaldconrad says:

    I was expecting an early ‘high hosie’ on the hand, myself. You know; chop-chop and all that…but this is perfectly told. Nice perspective, nice tale and the perfect sort of ending. Thanks.

  10. Very cute! I too was expecting some gore for the same reasons as J Dane Tyler :-)
    Food for thought too – I’d never though about how a child would feel about “sharing” their mum with other kids in that way

  11. peggy says:

    Add me to the gory conclusion list. I much preferred where you took Lucy. I loved how we got to see the line-of-thinking for your little girl, and through her eyes (and ears) how adults sometimes discount genius reasoning (even if it’s incorrect).

    Curious: why does mom bite her fingers? I mean, what makes her so nervous that she has a physical manifestation? What does Lucy say is the reason mom bites her fingers/fingernails? Cool detail.

  12. Joely says:

    I’m sorry! I thought I’d left a comment here already. I read so many I forget where I’ve commented and where I haven’t.

    This was a lovely story, and I thought the ending was very touching.

  13. Elijah says:

    So much anxiety in this piece. Fantastically written.

    I agree with others, I expected a little chop chop and was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t head in that direction.

  14. sueperfluous says:

    Lovely story! Loved the portrayal of the sneaky little girl Jenni. Lucy’s logic was excellent, and gave the story a good ending. (I, too, had at first wondered if she had chopped off the hand, but this is much nicer). One small suggestion – there are 2 mentions of points being valid – I would try to replace the second one with other words, or miss it out completely, to avoid repetition. Well done!

  15. I never thought gore, actually; I’m not quite sure what I imagined. But I did like Lucy’s mission. And I liked your story, too.

  16. lauraeno says:

    Wonderful story! It’s strange the random things that a parent will say that blow all out of proportion in a child’s mind. I had to laugh at the 2 hands, 2 children thing. That’s what I’ve alway told people as to why I have two children.

  17. Sam says:

    Beautifully written, touching story. I like the ending and how you gave us the insecurities from Lucy’s POV. I’m looking forward to your next Lucy story.

  18. Very cute story. I imagine that it really would be hard to go through what Lucy is going through. Her voice made this one precious.

  19. Sorry I’m late to this but yeah … you had me going with this as well.

    I agree with most, I love the perspective on this and that collection sounds really really intriguing.

  20. I really enjoyed this piece. You captured Lucy’s anxiety so well! I think everyone can relate to that feeling.

    Well done!

    If I could make one teensy suggestion, it would be to watch for language in the narrative that a child wouldn’t use, since it’s from Lucy’s POV. One example I noticed a couple of times was “valid point”. That’s a very adult expression. Children don’t consider if what someone says is ‘valid’. It’s either wrong or right.

    Overall, I loved it!

  21. 2mara says:

    Poor Lucy. I was feeling her pain. I think the end is so sweet… even if mum doesn’t appreciate it. I too was worried she would chop the thing off. Glad she didn’t, though.

    ~2

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