“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #29 – Stevie Turner

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Look on the Bright Side of Life

Late October 2015, and the year is dying. As I step out along the country lanes and scuff up the dry, withered leaves, I cannot help but focus on my own possible demise. Once again there are two enlarged lymph nodes where enlarged lymph nodes shouldn’t be, despite one thyroidectomy, two neck dissections, and four treatments of radioactive iodine. The possible implications start to play havoc with my mind. I start to think about arranging my funeral and sorting out my affairs. I change my bank accounts to joint ones, and try not to sink into a deep depression.

They say papillary thyroid cancer is a ‘good’ cancer. This had been told to me 10 years previously with just the right amount of bonhomie by a rather fortunate medic who had no idea what it would be like to suffer personally from an advanced stage 4 variety. The disease is slow-growing but relentless in its efforts to take over the body. Silent battles have been valiantly fought over many years with a clever, elusive enemy. However, casualties are now mounting at an alarming pace; the voice is croaky, the neck is stiff and painful, the eyes are dry at night and watery during the day, the thyroxine-induced palpitations are increasing along with bone thinning, and slowly but surely my vitality and joie-de-vivre is dissipating, along with the heat of the summer.

At the age of 47 I had only suffered from the odd cold or sore throat, and had been into hospital just to have my 2 babies. This was to change somewhat drastically with my cancer diagnosis in June 2005, initially mis-diagnosed as a multi-nodular goitre by a radiologist stuffed full of his own self-importance. I suddenly found that many doctors wanted to be in my personal space, although luckily I’ve been unconscious for the more serious intrusions. Their jovial bedside manner and tendency to understate matters is irritating; why not speak the facts as they stand and let the patient be informed of what is going to happen to them? I was never told that radioactive iodine could cause narrowing of the eyes’ tear ducts; I had to look up the information for myself after I was brushed off as having blepharitis and told to wash my eyes with baby shampoo! I eventually needed to be in another surgeon’s personal space as he repaired the tear duct in my left eye in 2009. The same surgeon repaired the right eye seven years later.

However, I am still here after 10 years of fighting. Metastatic thyroid cells invaded my lungs early on with the intention of finishing me off, but as yet I have no symptoms from the secondary lung cancer, which does not seem to grow. I take my daily constitutional walks around my village, inhaling the country air and mentally sticking up a middle finger at my foe. I’ve even purchased a bicycle, and relish the fact that I can still pedal out along the narrow roads and feel the breeze on my face. If villagers pass the time of day with me and ask why my voice is croaky, I tell them I have caught a cold. I must be known locally as ‘Germy’! I avoid pity like the plague; all I’ve ever wanted to be is ‘normal’, the same as everybody else.

What is ‘normal’? Everybody in this life at some time or another has a cross to bear. There is no point in bleating ‘Why me?’ The answer is ‘Well, why not?’ Why should I be singled out for a trouble-free life? Bad luck affects us all in different ways. With me it’s thyroid cancer, but others can be worse off in their misfortune. Life is not a bed of roses, and we have to deal with the lot we have been given. This is where I am fortunate because twice in my life thyroid cancer, strangely enough, has worked in my favour.

The first time my dark cloud had a silver lining was after the initial thyroidectomy operation in 2005. One vocal cord was permanently paralysed during the procedure, and I was left with a whisper of a voice for many months. At the time I was working as a grade 2 clerk in a busy hospital, and could no longer answer the phone or speak to patients and relatives who came up to the desk. I was re-deployed and promoted to a grade 3 assistant medical secretary, typing clinic letters only, rising to a grade 4 secretary when a semblance of a voice had returned and it was proved that I could do the work. Seeing as it was a medical secretary’s post I had been after when I initially joined the hospital’s staff in 2002, my dream had at last come true. I did not possess the qualifications initially to apply for a secretary’s post, and had originally been turned down countless times when I had applied for job vacancies. Thyroid cancer had stepped in and given me what I wanted!

The second time it worked in my favour was in October 2014 when after a period of 7 years’ remission, the cancer returned. I needed a right neck dissection, and the procedure caused my voice to disappear again, no doubt because of the trauma of intubation. I was by then 57 years old, suffering more with the effects of the various operations I had had, and I decided to take early retirement on grounds of sickness and disability. I had had enough trying to hold down a job in-between undergoing procedures. My oncologist put up a good case for me, and I was granted my pension. I am now free to do the thing I have always wanted to do all my life – write novels!

To date I have written 8 novels and 4 novellas, and am currently working on a book of short stories. I am having a ball while I suffer the effects of my cancer treatment. I have my own little space in our lounge, where I sit and let my creative instincts take over and banish thoughts of death and disease from my mind. Sometimes I even forget to start cooking dinner, so lost am I in the twists and turns of my plots. My husband is kindness personified, and is only too happy to see me enjoying what life I have left. I sell my stories on Amazon to supplement my pension, and to date have sold over 1000 books.

The waiting is one of the worst things about this disease. First you wait for surgery, and then you wait for a diagnosis. Following treatment you wait to see if it has been successful, if it hasn’t then you must wait for more treatment. If your thyroxine dose is incorrect, then you wait 6 weeks for a blood test after taking an increased or reduced dose, because a new strength of thyroxine takes 6 weeks work properly. I have spent 11 years as a lady-in-waiting.

What length of life do I have left? Who knows? It’s as long as a piece of string. It could be 30 years, or it could be 3. I have exhausted two of the treatments, surgery and radioactive iodine, but still have two more to go before the doctors hang up their white coats and walk out the door. The third treatment is external beam radiotherapy, with its drastic side-effects and possible hospitalisation for an eventual inability to swallow. The fourth and final treatment is a new drug on the market, which also has many side-effects. Apart from surgery and radioactive iodine I have also had four sessions of healing with a world-renowned spiritual healer. God alone knows if it was the surgery or the healing which helped, but my latest scan results at the end of January 2016 showed no evidence of any thyroid cancer cells in my neck, and the two enlarged lymph nodes that could be seen in October 2015 had shrunk. They say I’m doing well, and therefore I hope to be around for many more years to come.

What lies ahead? None of us know, and perhaps it’s better that way. Not a single one of us gets out of this life alive. My own father died of cancer at the age of 49, and without the interventions I’ve had my life would have been similarly shortened. He never knew my two sons, and I would never have met my four grandchildren, which fill my life in a way only grandchildren can, if I had not had the treatment I’ve had. Every day is a bonus for me now, and I’m making the most of life while I can. I’ve just been upgraded from 3-monthly follow ups to 6-monthly, so don’t worry about me, I’m doing very well!

Stevie Turner © 2016

author bio

I began my writing career as far back as 1969, when I won an inter-schools’ writing competition after submitting a well-thumbed and hastily scribbled essay entitled ‘My Pet’. A love of words and writing short stories and poems has carried on all throughout my life, but it is only now in middle age that I’ve started writing novels full-time and taking this author business seriously.

I have just published my second short story ‘The Noise Effect’ and a tenth novel ‘The Donor’ will be published on 26th December 2015. My novels are realistic, but tend to shy away from the mainstream somewhat and focus on the darker side of relationships. However, you’ll find I do like to add in a little bit of humour along the way. In January 2015 my third novel ‘A House Without Windows’ won the Goodreads’ eBookMiner Book of the Month Competition, and was chosen as a medal winner in the New Apple Book Awards 2014 Suspense/Thriller category. Also in late 2015 it won a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award.

I have also recently branched out into the world of audio books. Two audio books ‘The Daughter-in-law Syndrome’ and ‘A House Without Windows’ are available for purchase, and the rest are currently in production and will become available in 2016.

So here I am in the late summer of my life, and the words are tumbling out of my head. Living for more than a few years has given me plenty of subject matter to write about, and I look forward to sharing quite a lot of it with you.


DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Stevie!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

giveaway

Stevie is giving away FIVE audible.co.uk codes for her humorous audiobook The Pilates Class. Comment on this blog post to show your interest!!!

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #27 – Blake Rivers

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Life Eclipsed

 

They say I’m doing well at school,

Because I made the grade.

“…intelligent and… don’t understand…

Cheer up you

Silly Thing!”

 

And when I’m off and walking home, they say it’s all my fault;

“…stay in school–and as for them? Just… turn the other cheek.”

 

They say I’m doing well at work,

“…a real asset to us all.

There’s just one thing… The time off thing…

You don’t look sick, don’t look ill… should be on the ball!”

 

A darkness has no light;

and when I’m doing well,

I’ll be on time, turn up, take part, be

Everything you like.

But if I don’t, think on it… am I truly well and good?

Sullen-silent I scream alone…

 

“…I wish they’d understood.”

 

Blake Rivers © 2016

 

author bio

Blake Rivers lives in the East of England, surrounded by acres of historical countryside, towns and villages. It is from these mysterious places of history that he draws on the fantastical, moulding them into stories and adventures.

For as long as he can remember, writing books and being an author of stories was all he wanted to do. He still keeps his first two manuscripts, one written on an old Royal typewriter when he was twelve, and the other on an Amiga computer when he was fourteen, and although they’d never be published, they are a reminder of the dream and the journey. In the late 2000’s, Blake wrote many starts to books that he abandoned, but it was in 2011 he began to write his first novel to be published, The Assassin Princess. Both this and his second novel, A Step into Darkscape, are available on Amazon.

When he is not writing, Blake enjoys spending time with his girlfriend who is an artist, reading lots, and going for long walks.

http://blakerivers.com/

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Thank you so much for taking part Blake!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #24 – EJ Shortall

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Lost
A short story by
E.J. Shortall
Edited by: Kendra’s Editing and Book Services

 

“You will love it.”

“There is no better feeling in the world.”

“They complete you.”

Lies.

It was all lies.

At least, that’s how it felt at the time.

No one told me the truth. No one ever said becoming a mother would shake me, break me, and turn me into a withered fraction of the person I used to be.

Sure, I had the emotional moment and feeling of absolute joy when my son was placed in my arms for the very first time. And yes, my chest constricted with an overwhelming sense of pride when he first opened his blue eyes and looked up at me, melting my heart.

That feeling didn’t last long.

Within a week of my son’s birth, everything had changed.

Sitting on a bench facing the small lake, the dark water reflecting the changing autumn leaves of nearby trees, my thoughts drifted back to the time when being a mother became too much, when I wished it would all just go away.

That he would just go away.

 

Harvey, my son, had been a little angel. “Our very own gift from God,” Dylan, my husband, would say. Of course he would. He didn’t get to see the devil-child like I did.

As soon as Dylan returned to work at the end of his paternity leave and it became just Harvey and me, things spiralled downhill quickly.

Everything started changing.

I started changing.

It was almost like he was testing the strength of my character—and found me lacking. From the moment the front door clicked closed behind Dylan in the mornings, after he had showered his precious son with kisses, Harvey became a demanding monster. It didn’t matter what I tried or how much of my own hair I tried pulling out, Harvey would not settle.

He would cry non-stop for hours, and nothing would pacify him. I’d feed, change, and cuddle him, and I’d rock him in my arms until they ached, but his wailing would not stop.

In the early days of post-natal checks, the midwife—and then various other health-care workers—would tell me everything was fine. It would take me a while to learn what my son’s different cries were and I should not fret about things.

That was easier said than done.

The more Harvey cried, the more desperate I became.

First, my feelings were of guilt; why couldn’t I do the simple thing of pacifying my son? We soon found ourselves in a vicious circle of baby crying—mum fretting—baby continuing to cry—mum becoming desperate for some peace.

Next came hopelessness.

I began to feel lost, worthless, not deserving of anything or anyone in my life. I had been given, supposedly, the greatest gift on earth, but I didn’t appreciate him. I couldn’t.

Within days, I found myself withdrawing from my son, and from life. I couldn’t cope. Suddenly, being a wife and mother was too much.

I wasn’t connecting with my son. The bright spark of pride I’d felt straight after his birth, had faded and died. I began despising him, wishing he were anywhere but with me. My relationship with my husband was suffering, too. I could see the concern in his eyes when he came home from work in the evenings and asked how my day had been, but I couldn’t seem to muster the enthusiasm to care.

While I stayed in bed, trying to bury myself in the comfort of my blankets, I would leave Harvey in his bassinet crying for hours until he would eventually drop off to sleep. I couldn’t find the motivation to get washed or dressed. I stopped eating properly and would ignored phone calls and visitors.

I simply withdrew from living.

Eventually, Dylan and our health visitor realised that something was wrong, that I wasn’t just suffering with mild baby blues.

“Georgie,” Dylan said to me one morning, sitting beside me on the edge of the bed as he cuddled a sleeping Harvey. “Sweetheart, we can’t carry on like this. Harvey needs his mum.”

His words were like a knife to my chest. He was right; Harvey did need me, but I didn’t know how to be a mum. I was confused, scared, tired, and I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt that I couldn’t just get on with motherhood like every other new mum did.

My throat clogged up with a football-sized ball of guilt, shame, and emotion, and tears stung my closed eyes. But I would not cry. I refused to. I could not admit to Dylan how low I was feeling, how utterly useless I was. I was his wife, the mother of his child. I was supposed to be strong, caring, and nurturing his child whilst he was off providing for us financially.

Dylan’s gentle hand swept greasy hair away from my face, and I felt his eyes on me.

I will not cry. I will not cry.

I kept repeating it to myself over and over, willing myself back into the darkness that was slowly engulfing me.

“You have to snap out of this, babe. Harvey needs you… I need you.”

Despite my best efforts, a whimper that resembled a squeak abraded my throat, and the tears I had been trying so hard to repress finally started falling. I screwed my eyes together tight and prayed no more would fall. But it was no use. The dam had breached, and before I knew it, I was sobbing, burying my face into the pillow, unable to control my shaking body.

“Let me help you. We need to get you help so you can feel like you again. I need my wife, and Harvey needs his mum. We can’t lose you, Georgie.”

Dylan’s emotion-filled voice and words took me by surprise. What did he mean by ‘lose me’? I wasn’t going anywhere, well, other than the black hole I was steadily falling into.

I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and wiggled under the crumple of blankets until I was facing Dylan. For the first time in several weeks, I actually took note of my husband. His usual bright-blue eyes were dull and haunted, dark circles swirled underneath, and a concerned frown drew in his brows.

My husband was seriously worried. About me?

As tears continued to spill from my eyes, Dylan reached forward to wipe them away.

“I’ve been speaking to Evelyn, and she thinks you have Postnatal Depression.” I shuddered again, not wanting to acknowledge what we both knew was the truth. “I’ve made you an appointment with the doctor. It’s time we got you the support you need to help you get back to your old self.”

Dylan offered a small, weary smile and continued stroking my hair with one hand while cuddling our son to his chest with the other.

The realisation of the seriousness of my condition hit me full on. I wasn’t just feeling down or tired; I was depressed.

I turned my head, not able to look at my husband or son, as a new emotion swept through me… shame.

“Hey.” Dylan quickly slipped his gentle hand beneath my cheek, encouraging me to look at him again. “Don’t hide from me. You have nothing to be ashamed of, okay? Lots of new mothers suffer with Postnatal Depression.”

“I’m so sorry,” I cried, bringing my hand to my mouth, trying to control my hysterics. “I’m so, so sorry, Dylan.”

With his free arm, Dylan pulled my against his chest, holding his family close.

“Shh, you have nothing to be sorry for. You hear me? Nothing.”

I cried and snuggled into Dylan’s white cotton shirt for what felt like hours until Harvey started wriggling and getting grumpy.

“Why don’t you go shower while I feed this little monster, then we’ll go talk to the doctor.” Dylan planted a kiss to my forehead and began to ease away. Not wanting him to go, I quickly grabbed handfuls of his shirt and buried my face into his chest.

“I love you,” I whispered.

I felt his smile against my skin as he kissed me again.

“And I love you, too… We’ll get through this, baby. I promise we will.”

 

After a chat with our family doctor, he confirmed that I was experiencing Postnatal Depression. We spoke about various treatment options and support that would help me cope, and eventually decided against antidepressants, opting for a more therapeutic approach through counselling and support groups.

When we returned home from the doctors, together, Dylan and I fed and changed Harvey and settled him down for a nap, then we sat and searched the Internet for information and advice. The Mind website was a fantastic resource that helped me further understand my condition and put me in contact with a local support group.

Within days, I’d attended a one-to-one counselling session with a lovely lady who didn’t judge and encouraged me to open up. I also had further plans to join a local group of other women who were also struggling following the birth of a child. I was still buried in a black hole, but for the first time in weeks, I felt hopeful.

Talking to people who understood and could relate to how I was feeling was my greatest motivation. I finally accepted that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t a freak of nature, or a bad mother, and my fears, anxieties, and emotions were all normal.

 

“Mumma, Mumma.”

My thoughts came back to the present by the sound of a happy child shouting behind me.

Slowly, I pulled my gaze from the darkness of the lake and turned in my seat. The sight that greeted me made my chest ache and spread a wide smile across my face. It was the most beautiful sight in the world.

My son.

Harvey, who was now walking, was heading toward me on his unsteady, chubby legs, a bright smile lighting up his face.

“Mumma, Mumma,” he babbled over and over, making me laugh.

“Hey, baby boy,” I cooed, scooping him into my arms. “Did Daddy take you to the swings?”

“Swin, swin, swin” he chanted over and over, excited to have mastered—in his baby way—another new word.

I felt Dylan step up behind me and wrap his arms around my waist, settling his hands over my stomach.

“Hello, gorgeous.”

The warmth of his breath fluttering across the sensitive skin of my neck, and the husky tones of his voice, sent my body into overdrive.

“Hello to you, too, handsome.”

“How is my family doing?” He rubbed gentle circles over the tiny swell of my belly.

“We’re all doing great.” I beamed, turning in Dylan’s arms and offering him my lips that he was only too willing to smother with his own.

We stood together for several minutes, kissing each other and cuddling our son, until Harvey became restless and wanted to get down.

“I guess it’s time to go home, then,” Dylan said, taking Harvey from my arms and securing him in his stroller.

As we walked back through the park toward our car, I couldn’t be more thankful for my life. I had a wonderful son, a fantastic husband, an amazing support group surrounding me, and another, unexpected, child on the way.

Things weren’t always perfect; I still had the occasional struggle, and I couldn’t deny being a little afraid of becoming a mother again. But, as they say, I was doing well and getting better and more confident every day.

With my family and friends beside me, I knew everything would be okay.

“You will love it.”

“There is no better feeling in the world.”

“They complete you.”

It was all the truth, every last word.

EJ Shortall © 2016

author bio

EJ Shortall was born and raised in London, England where she currently still lives with her teenage son.

Having worked in education for the better part of 12 years, EJ decided a change was needed and, following a moment of inspiration, she decided to put pen to paper and start writing her first novel, Silver Lining. Not content with just the one, she continued with book two and hopes to write many more.

She has always enjoyed reading, but found it was mostly just a holiday extravagance. Then she discovered a certain worldwide best seller, and that was it she was hooked. Reading quickly became an obsession and she couldn’t devour books fast enough. The books on her shelves and reading device range from sweet, Young Adult romances, to smouldering erotic encounters.

Aside from reading and writing, EJ also enjoys amateur photography and cake decorating.

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorE.J.Shortall

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part EJ!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #18 – Rachel Hague

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So I’ve struggled,

I’ve hurt.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

You look at me like dirt.

 *

Why do I feel this way?

Should I believe the things you say?

*

Heart racing,

Blurring mind.

Worrying if what I’m doing is right.

What will I find?

 *

I end it with you.

Need to get out of this hole.

Claw out of darkness,

Need to heal my soul.

 *

I saw the light,

I chose to fight.

 *

Silence throughout it all.

Back on top from whence I fell.

If they ask, I’ll just say,

“THEY” say I’m doing well.

 *

Just. After time,

My life is my own. All Mine.

 *

Gosh, it’s so long since I wrote a poem! I used to write all the time when I was in my teenage years. My my, how life changes!

I just want to say how hard it was in the beginning to ask for help. I had struggled with anxiety for a long time before I spoke to someone, It was only after I had started pulling my hair our (I had a lovely small bald patch to show for it) that I was encouraged to talk to someone. Even now, years later, if I have a bad day at work or if there’s something that’s weighing on my mind, I still feel the urge.

Talking helps. Talking to my partner, my mum or anyone for that matter! Learning to let the little things go has improved my quality of life. If I don’t think I’m going to remember the current “incident”, that’s causing the anxiety, in a year. I let it go. (Please don’t start singing THAT song now I’ve written let it go. Dammit now I’m humming it!)

I don’t ever want to feel how I did back then. People did always used to say I’m doing well, because they never knew any different until I started to get help.

I refuse to be the person I used to be. On my back I have….

Take me as I am,

Who I was,

And for whom I shall become.

Tattooed there. A reminder that I’m stronger now than ever before. I’m happy.

Never feel ashamed to talk out loud to people and share. Even if it’s just a tiny sliver of your worries, anxieties, the highs and your lows, it may just be the start to finding your way back to being you.

You’ll find your way back. I believe in you.

You just have to believe too.

Rachel Hague © 2016

author bio

Rachel is a blogger for booksiignoremyhusbandfor.blogspot.co.uk and a proactive member of the book community! Follow her on Twitter @BIIMHF – she always has her head in a book!

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Rachel!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #16 – Alexandra North

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 They say I’m doing well…

Am I? Really?

The pain consumes me, ravishing my weary body.

Will it ever end? Will I ever sleep?

Twisting, shooting, stabbing, gripping.

A never-ending cycle soothed by a myriad of pills and heat.

 

Cool water washes the tablets down and

I curl up tight, consoling my aching curves.

Unwelcome drowsiness, finally takes effect.

The warm medicinal blanket soothes my severed nerves.

 

They say I’m doing well … managing this illness,

But they don’t see me at dawn, in agony and pain.

They say I’m doing fine… being positive about my progress.

I’m trying very hard – after all, I have a reputation to maintain.

 

To most I am ‘fine’, for the mask is firmly fixed in place.

The lipstick is on; the cheeks rosy, the bright smile fake.

Only the closest of friends and family know my secret,

the torment I go through, each day I wake, each step I take.

 

I smile through unshed tears, pain ripping through my body,

as I chat with a colleague, or friend, or my son.

Screaming silently, I nod in all the right places;

Life is as it should be to all.

Another day has passed, another day is done.

 

My strength makes me proud; I control this illness.

Despair cloaks me in blackness, but positivity lets the light back in.

Those good days I embrace, and I live my life freely,

for when the bad days come, and they will,

I’ll indulge and give in.

 

They say I am doing well … what do they know?

I’ll be the judge of that, I will say if I am doing well.

Today may be a day where I want to scream and yell,

tomorrow one where I’m invincible and not living this hell.

 

One thing I know, my pain makes me strong.

I won’t let this beat me, this illness of mine.

I’m determined to not lose the person that I am.

The laughter bubbles, despite my ongoing decline.

 

The support I gain from my family and friends,

helps me fight this condition that may never end.

 

Alexandra North © 2016

author bio

ALEXANDRA NORTH…

… is an Amazon bestselling author who came onto the writing scene in 2014. She writes romance, with erotic themes, humour, drama and often suspense and there is always a HEA at the end of a book/series.
Ms. North lives in the rambling lush hills of Yorkshire, United Kingdom with her swoon-worthy husband and two children, 15 and 9. She worked as a Graphic Designer & Illustrator, for over 18 years before she wrote her first book and now combines design and writing in this new path when creating her book covers and teasers.
Writing was always a hobby and took a back seat to University, work, parenthood and unfortunately later, chronic long-term illness. One day she woke and thought ‘life’s too short – I’m going to finish that blummin book!’ She now devotes her time to writing love stories full of humour and naughtiness. When she isn’t manically typing away or trying to be the model wife and mum, Alexandra can be found shoe shopping (shoes are her weakness), cosying up with back-to-back TV series and enjoying her very own Sebastian Silver.

Find her at the following social media sites;

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alexandranorthauthor
Twitter: @alexnorthbooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/alexnorthbooks
http://www.alexandranorth.co.uk

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Thank you so much for taking part Alexandra!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #15 – Amelia J Hunter

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They say I’m doing well. I’ve heard them talk in the corridors, discussing the meetings. If I practise what I have been taught, I’ll get through this with the tablets they suggest.

I’ll survive.

I’m not sure they really understand how I’ve been feeling, or if they are listening to the words I’m not saying. The times I hold my breath before I answer. Do they realise I’m using that time to think of a reason for what I need to say to satisfy their questions? To please them so they think they are achieving a good outcome from our limited time together?

Sometimes when I hear the pen tapping on the notebook I think I have been found out. My excuses have been seen through but nothing is said and another appointment is made, my cover-up worked.

The million-dollar question is when. When did it all begin, the cold sweats, the panic in my chest, the need to leave a room as soon as I enter, the thoughts in the pit of my stomach. But I don’t know. I’ve explained my past, about my insecurities in my youth, but nothing pin points the exact moment because there isn’t one. It’s manageable they have told me, it will pass, I must learn to control it. I’ve tried, oh my god have I tried, but the feelings that I can’t explain creep in before I can contain them.

I hoped after the first few years, after it started, that the pain would dull, but instead I’ve learnt to disguise the anguish.

Which has led me here tonight.

I hope when you read this, a new life can begin and this moment will be a distant memory. I hope I am not a horrible memory and one you can forgive, someone you can learn from when you think there is no one who understands what you are going through.

I wanted to write to you on parchment paper with a black fountain pen. The words seem to flow better when the ink glides over the grooved paper. It stops me thinking if what I am writing is my true inner feelings or not. I don’t have time to pause, you will see, if I do the ink leaves a blob. I don’t want that, I want to write what I need to say in one sitting, no smudges, no errors.

I wanted to let you know that no matter how bad you feel, no matter how bad your day is, it can not get any worse, things pass. Time passes. That feeling you are having will pass and move on to another.

I’ve learnt that the future can not frighten you when you aren’t in it.

The past cannot be changed, and the present moves on to the future.

But I’m too late now to take that all on board. I wish someone had this letter for me when I was at my lowest and then maybe, just maybe I would be learning to cope better instead of fading away.

Writing this to you I hope will make it easier, I hope what I have gone through will give you strength and I hope you don’t make the same mistake I did when I thought I couldn’t go on. The mess I’ve left behind is worse than my darkest day.

I thought I could cope, I thought I could control the urges that overwhelmed me. But, but they consumed me, smothered me until they choked me.

I stopped asking for help.

I stopped looking for solutions.

I stopped dreaming of a future.

I stopped crying that day and everyone around me started.

I could hear my family saying over and over how well I was doing. I wanted to scream you didn’t see me in the early hours but I no longer had a voice.

You have a voice though; you have a choice and never forget you have amazing help out there that wasn’t around in my day.

I’m leaving this letter, neatly folded, on your pillow while you are sleeping. It’s the best time for me to move around without being noticed. When you wake in the early hours, like I’ve seen you do, I hope my words will comfort you and give you the encouragement to reach out for the guidance waiting for you.

You are not alone.

You never were.

Amelia J Hunter © 2016

author bio

Amelia J Hunter is an indie writer who likes to take her reader on a journey through her erotic writing and her contemporary romance novels.

Leaving the bright lights of London behind in the early 90’s, she now lives in the Irish countryside with her family, a good coffee maker and plenty of talk.

Amelia is a sociable writer who loves to hear from readers, writers and anyone that makes her smile and enjoys her ramblings.

Amelia has a blog where you can read short stories created just for that page, book updates, events and even audios of her work. Amelia’s blog can be found at http://www.ameliajhunter.blogspot.ie

Twitter at @ameliajhunter1
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amelia-J-Hunter-Author
or email at ameliajhunter1@gmail.com

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #14 – Claire C Riley

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Never give up.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

But I’m not.

I’m sinking in a sea of desperation, my life raft bobbing further and further from my reach.

The black waves splash my face,

They choke my lungs, and burn my eyes.

Drowning…

I’m drowning in sadness.

Inexplicable melancholy for reasons unknown.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

But I’m not.

I put a pretty smile on it,

Sing the sweet melodic, self-sacrificing rhymes they love to hear,

And pretend that it’s all okay.

But inside I’m still drowning.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

But I’m not.

It hurts.

Like a knife.

Or a cut.

Or a scrape of the knee.

A splinter to the thumb.

It hurts in the most physical sense,

But it’s all inside my head,

And I can’t make it stop!

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

But I’m not.

But I’m trying…

But I’m wanting…

But I’m fighting

But I’m losing…

But I’m trying…

But it’s winning…

But I’m refusing to give up to the demons inside my head,

To the devil inside my eyes that pours the tears down my face.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

But I’m not.

But I will be.

I gasp,

I breathe,

Cold water on my skin.

Gasp, breathe, cold.

My chest aches,

Burning, throbbing, aching,

One, two, three…

Don’t give up.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

And I will be.

I’m floating in a sea of desperation,

Reaching for my life raft,

Wiping the black abyss from my eyes,

Coughing up the waves of my sadness.

Floating.

Floating.

Floating.

I’ll reach dry land and pull myself free,

I will.

I’ll do it.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be.

And I will be.

But it’s okay not to be.

It’s okay to be sad.

It’s okay to admit it.

It’s okay to cry.

It’s okay…

It’s okay…

It is okay.

© Claire C. Riley 2016

 author bio

Claire C Riley is a USA Today Bestselling author as well as a #1 Bestselling British Horror Author. Her works include: Odium The Dead Saga Series, Odium 0.5 Novella Series, Limerence (The Obsession Series) Twisted Magic Series, Thicker Than Blood Series and Shut Up & Kiss Me. She writes dark twisty words, is a lover of epic romances, and an eater of cake!She writes characters that are realistic and kills them without mercy. She lives in the UK with her three young daughters, husband, and scruffy dog.

https://www.facebook.com/ClaireCRileyAuthor

www.clairecriley.com

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #13 – Rebecca Sherwin

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But I’ll Try…

They say I’m doing well.

I’m doing well.

Well. 

What does that even mean? I looked it up: “in a good or satisfactory way,” or “in good health; free or recovered from illness”. I don’t want to be just good or satisfactory, and I’m not.

I’m not free, and I haven’t recovered. So no, I’m not doing well.

I want to be different. I want to do things the way the books told me. I want to feel the way he does, smile like he does. I want to have the same excitement I see in his eyes when he wakes up in the middle of the night and does the things I should be doing…while I stare at the foot of the bed and wonder what I did wrong. I want to love her, and I do. I just don’t like her. I don’t like what she’s done to me, even though he says he loves me as much as he always has. It doesn’t matter. None of it matters. I’m too tired to care, too tired to fall asleep but too exhausted to do my new job. Thinking about it makes me cry. Thinking of nothing makes me cry. I cry all the time, until my eyes burn, my throat is sore and my head throbs with guilt. Sometimes I get angry and shout at him, but he’s still here. He holds me while I push him away, until I’m too tired to fight and fall into his arms. When she cries I leave the room; it hurts to be around her, and it hurts to be away from her. The world wasn’t supposed to be this dark; this wasn’t what we planned and it isn’t what we want. He’ll leave me eventually, when he realises there’s no future for us; when I can’t fix myself and can’t explain what’s wrong. Why I feel this way. Hopeless. I feel hopeless. Helpless. I feel helpless. Well. I don’t feel it. I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t feel so heavy, so lost, a stranger in my own body.

“Hey,” he says, stroking our daughter’s hair as I stare through him and let the tears fall freely.

I look down at our baby, swathed in pink and lying in the arms of the woman who can’t bring herself to be the mother she deserves. She has his eyes – big and wide and full of life. I’m glad she got them from him; they’re what I fell in love with when I first met him. Her nose is a little button, her lips full with a little pout…and she has a little patch of fair hair on the top of her head – the same colour as mine. Everything about her is little. Innocent and pure and… ours.

It’s the first time I’ve held her in a week. Since I’d last had her in my arms and thought about ending my own life because I couldn’t bear the guilt of not wanting to hold her.

I don’t want to leave them.

I don’t want to be unwell, failing to cope and unstable.

I want us to be a family.

“You’re doing well.”

I’m not. We both know that.

But I’ll try.

With the stab of indifference rippling through me, I kissed her smooth forehead, closing my eyes and whispering my wish against her skin.

“I’m doing well.”

Rebecca Sherwin © 2016

author bio

Rebecca is a London born and bred mother, writer and psychology student. She is the author of summer romance, Second Chance Hero, and the psychological romantic-suspense series, Twisted. An avid reader and lover of stories that keep you guessing, Rebecca writes tales that will challenge your perceptions and toy with your emotions. Rebecca’s stories invite you to open your mind and dig deeper into the meanings of the lives of each and every character you meet. She entices you into their world – to feel with them, to grow with them, to love with them. She asks you to become a part of them and allow them to become a part of you. Rebecca would like to express her thanks to everyone who reads her stories, and would love to hear from you!

http://rebeccasherwin.com/

Twitter: @RRSherwin

FB: http://www.facebook.com/rebeccasherwinauthor

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop 12 – Charlotte Hart

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One step at a time.

Fine.

That’s what he said yesterday, my dad that is, he said I was doing fine. In fact that’s what they all say lately, the other family members. Either that or something like “You’re doing really well, honey.”

I’m not. I haven’t been doing really well for a long time. It’s been so long that I can’t even remember what doing well feels like. And whose damn opinion of doing really well should I trust anyway? Certainly not my dad’s. He who must be obeyed is probably the last person in the world who should offer any kind of judgement on people’s behaviour. What would he know about crippling nonsensical emotions? He’s the one who ran off with that slut of a woman to help himself after it all happened, pretty much killing mum at the same time. She might still be hanging around, but she also might as well be dead in reality. She just sits there and stares blankly at the telly every day, occasionally moving to pour more vodka, maybe a splash of tonic if she’s feeling frivolous.

Frivolous? What a fucking word. As if anyone here’s done anything frivolous in the last three years. Even I just do the same as her now. Rock backward and forward like my life is nothing more than this chair in this repulsive little flat that I own. I hate it. I hate the flowery walls and the beige carpet, and the horrendous stench that encroaches ever more with each passing hour, souring an already vile existence. I hate the visions of torment around every corner, the never-ending taste of disgust that floods my soul each time I remember, and the constant nagging reminder of what was.

I hate me.

“Please don’t. Please don’t give in. Please don’t. I love you, Danielle. There’s so much more out there yet. Just take my hand. It’s okay, we’ll make it better. One step at a time, you and me.”

It’s all I hear every fucking day. It goes round and round like an all-consuming torture while I sit here and gaze at his photo. I just rock in the hope I can remember something other than that. Please God, let me feel something other than the unending anguish of this guilt filled hatred.

And I can smell him, why can I still smell him? He’s everywhere. And it was his fault. Why did he do it? It should have been me that went over. It was me, my choice. Why did he have to be so stupid? I told him to let go, told him to just leave and let me get on with it, but he wouldn’t listen. He just kept chanting those fucking words and telling me he loved me, just kept holding on so tight that I couldn’t get him off me and then it was too late. And he was so bright and shiny, so beautifully unaffected by everything that is horrid and despicable in this world. Nothing in his 18 year old mind worked like mine. Nothing fazed him or made him think he was unworthy. He didn’t drown himself in drugs or taint his very existence with the vapid air of depravity and indulgence, like me. He was good and kind and decent and so very handsome. He should be here with a family and babies, and two point four fucking dogs and a mortgage. Instead he’s six feet under, and his will left his death payment to me.

So I could always be safe, apparently. Secure.

I stare over at mum sitting there in her drab dressing gown that hasn’t been washed for god knows how long. That skinks too. It smells like vomit and decades of disgust, all aimed at me. Rightly so. I’m a pointless waste of human life. There was no reason for me to be here before, so there certainly isn’t now. I don’t even know what I’m doing trying to forget anymore. I should just get on with it again. This flat’s high enough. In fact it’s higher than the bridge was. Not quite such a nice view, but what does that matter? Hell won’t be very nice either, will it? Although it’s what I deserve, regardless. At least I know he’s not there. He’ll be with the angels. They’ll probably be waiting on him hand and foot, and hopefully contemplating sending him back down here so he can heal people. Or at the very least show the world what men should be like.

“Ben?”

That’s the other thing that happens constantly. Mum saying his name as if she can smell him too. Ben, Ben, Ben. Mind you, her permanently alcohol induced fog probably means she sees all kinds of hallucinations. Thankfully for her they’re not the reality that I see every time I close my eyes. She wasn’t there to witness his blue eyes filled with love as he pushed me backwards away from him. I see them falling away from me every single moment of this godforsaken life, and no matter how much I lunge for him, I can’t grab him back to me. I can’t stop him falling. I even find myself sitting here sometimes with my hands outstretched still reaching for him. Dr Jones says that’s normal, and that I shouldn’t worry about it, that I should just keep taking the myriad of pills he delivers weekly and try to get on with my life.

It’ll get easier, Danielle. It’s not your fault. It was an accident.”

How about, fuck you, Dr Jones? It wasn’t an accident, it was all me. I killed him. If I hadn’t tried to jump, he wouldn’t have tried to save me. This is all my fault. And mum and dad covering the trail for me, as they always did, doesn’t make it right. I’m a killer, a murderer, a monster.

“I’m not having both my children taken from me.”

That’s what she near silently screamed at my dad when we walked to the police station. Then they’d lied, and made me lie too, made me tell the men in blue uniforms that it had been Ben that jumped, that I couldn’t reach him in time. Lies, all lies.

Just like this pitiful apparent survival.

My eyes search the room for something, anything. I don’t know what I’m looking for. I never do. An answer maybe? Eventually they find it, the window. I’ll just finish it now. It’s pretty simple. I’ll just finish what I started and then this fucking hollow space inside me will disappear and I won’t have to listen to his words haunting me daily. Mum won’t even notice, and if she does she’ll probably be thankful. My weary body rouses itself at the thought and stretches its feet forward to touch the beige carpet as I push on the armrests. Five minutes is all it’ll take for me to switch off the need to bother living. That’s all. There’s nothing worth living for anyway. Nobody really wants me here. They all blame me, and they’re right too as well.

It should have been me.

The sun blinds me as I quietly open the curtains and stare into the daylight. Is it daytime? Most of the time I don’t know what day of the week it is let alone the time. Too many drugs overloading an already confused mind. That’s what dad says, as if he knows all the fucking answers.

I gaze down at some kids in the snow throwing snowballs and laughing about something which causes my lips to attempt a smile of some sort. It feels odd, as if my mouth is uncomfortable with the movement. I suppose it is after all this time, but nevertheless the merriment of the bunch of Christmas revellers is enough to make it stay there for a while as I watch.

There’s so much more out there yet.”

That’s him again, still trying to cover me in his optimism. Even now he’s trying to show me the way. That a younger brother had the foresight and empathy to try is unbelievable really. But try he did, still does, even from the grave.

“Please don’t give in.”

He never gave into anything. He was always the one up front, leading the pack. Full of buoyancy and self-assurance with his blonde hair ruffling in the breeze and his gangly legs propelling him forward, always forward.

“We’ll make it better, Danielle. Just take my hand.”

And I wish I could. I wish he was still here so I could grab hold of it and absorb that energy from him again, that boundless enthusiasm that he seemed to own somehow. If I could just see a way through this endless maze of chaos and drudgery in my mind then maybe I’d have a chance of honouring his wishes. Perhaps there would be a way of me saying sorry somehow and moving on, or at least trying to make him proud and prove there was a reason for his stupid heroics.

“Please don’t give in. I love you.”

Love.

Is that good enough reason? That he loved me? It so should be. Love should be the reason for everything. It should wrench at your insides and tell you to be stronger, to hold on longer, to push past all the hurdles and forge a path forward. I should do that. I know I should because it’s what he would want from me. He’d be appalled by this grey velour tracksuit and dowdy appearance. He’d be forcing me to eat some food and then refusing to allow me to throw it all up again.

He’d say, “Get your arse in gear, Danny. We’ve got a world to conquer.” And he’d mean it too. He’d also probably slap me and then chase me into the bedroom to force the issue until I’d swing my hands up in the air and nod an exasperated “Okay,” in response, again.

I can still hear that from him now as I stare out into this offering of freedom, calculating how long it will take for these kids to leave, but they play on, running around and giggling at each other. So young, so full of promise and joy. There’s nothing holding them back or stifling how much they can enjoy their fun and abandonment. They’re just pure and true.

Just like him.

“Okay,” I mouth to myself, still watching as a young boy pummels a girl with endless rounds of snow. She laughs in response and ends up on the floor covered in the white fluffy stuff.

Christmas. It was his favourite time of year, he would have had me out there with those kids by now, probably dowsing me in as much of the cold stuff as he could manage just so that he could force hot chocolate on me when we got in. More calorie intake, as always.

Ben.

Tea. I need a cup of tea. Maybe a cup of tea will help me make it to the next day, and then tomorrow I can think about maybe changing these clothes. Perhaps going to the shops or cleaning a bit.

“One step at a time.”

Okay, Ben. One step at a time.

Charlotte E Hart © 2016

author bio

Charlotte E Hart is a smut peddler of the tallest order and she’s a little crazy – that’s why we love her!

On Twitter: @CharlotteEHart1

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CharlotteEHart.author

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #9 – Victoria L. James

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Harold was fascinated with the veins in his hands. Each morning, he would wake up, listening to the sound of his bones creaking as he dragged his weary body out of bed, and then he would go and sit in his chair by the window. No words were spoken. No thoughts were in his mind. He was blank, quiet and empty until the moment he let his bony bottom fall against the old pink cushioned chair. Harold would place his hands out on his lap and simply look down to study them.

It had become a fascination of his.

An odd fascination, of that he was well aware. At ninety-four years old, Harold knew that his days were limited. Family would come and go from the nursing home. They would help him brush the hair on his head where his stiff muscles would no longer allow him to reach. They would chat to him about the news, their voices taking on a similar tone to that people adopt when they speak to babies. They’d talk about the weather or the small garden that surrounded his current residence. They’d walk in with smiles stretched high into their cheeks, just never quite high enough for those smiles to reach their eyes. They’d pretend they wanted to be there, like Harold couldn’t see right through them or every false compliment they gave him.

Not that it mattered to him. He was grateful for any effort at all, given the fact that the majority of the poor beggars in that home didn’t have a soul they could rely on to visit. He was lucky to have a family who cared, a family who pretended they wanted to be there, just to make him feel a little better.

Yet, no matter what the days had in store for him, he always made a point to sit in his chair and study the thick, squishy veins that now sat prominently under his speckled skin.

When did they appear? he thought to himself. One minute he had been youthful, walking around town with a girl on each arm. Then he met Thea and in the blink of an eye, he was a father to four boys, a grandfather to nine grandchildren and he spent the majority of his time digging out weeds from his beloved garden.

Never once, though, in all his life prior to his entry to the nursing home, had he registered the moment that those big blue veins had started to rise under his skin.

It was a sign of age that taunted him daily, even in his sleep. It took him back to his youth where Harold could remember sitting on his grandpa’s knee, tracing his fingers over the thick veins of his grandpa’s hand, and every night he would ask the same question:

“Why do they stick out so much? Tell me again, gramps.”

His grandfather would place a sad smile on his face and answer, “It’s because my veins are so full of life, Harold. I’ve lived so long, they’re full to bursting now.”

“Bursting?” Harold would gasp in surprise, as though he hadn’t already heard the story a hundred times before.

“What happens when they do burst?”

His grandfather would sigh and try to hide the sadness in his voice, but Harold always saw it there in his eyes. “I go to another world to live another life with new veins that are empty, waiting to be filled.”

“Can I go with you?”

“No, child. I’m afraid you can’t. You have to stay here and fill your own body up with a lifetime full of memories first.”

“But that will take forever,” Harold cried.

“Hopefully.” His grandfather smiled.

It was just another day, and as Harold stared down at his hands on that cold, frosty morning, he felt his heart beat harder against his frail chest once again. He felt his fingers ache from the temperatures. He felt the rush of blood to his head when the panic started to take over, but as always, he remained still. Frozen. A little bit numb to the life that he was fortunate to have still beating through him.

Eventually, the door creaked open and the nurse walked in, her voice booming, cutting through the silence.

“Good morning, Harold,” she called out to him.

He didn’t look up. He knew that the nurse wasn’t looking his way or expecting an answer. It was the same thing they did every morning. They would waltz through the door, their eyes aimed high at the ceiling so they didn’t have to stare misery in the face. As long as they could pretend that Harold was fine, he was fine and their job was done.

Turning his hands over, he began to study his palms, and he allowed himself to think of all the wonderful, magical things he’d held in them.

The first time he touched his wife beneath her blouse and the shiver that ran through her body.

The first time he traced the length of her spine right before they made love.

The first time he held her hand as her new husband.

The first time he held his firstborn child, Zach, worrying suddenly how weak he seemed with the weight of his world now in his grip.

The first time he cleaned his child’s play wounds.

The last time he brushed his mother’s hair back from her face before he kissed her forehead and said goodbye when she died.

The last time the pad of his thumb brushed over his darling Thea’s lips.

The last time his hands had been able to get a solid grip on the trowel he loved to spend so much time with in the garden.

So many firsts. Too many, they were uncountable.

So many lasts. Too many, they were unforgettable.

But my God, what a life he had had. What a life he had held on to with a white-knuckle grip, and how blessed he had been. How blessed he was that, even though they failed to show him their love the way they used to, his family still cared. They still showed up. They still tried.

A small smile tried to tug on one corner of Harold’s mouth, but he quickly twitched his lips and remained straight faced. He had no desire for the nurse to see any kind of relief on his face and hang around. Small talk and polite conversation were no longer his forte.

Still, she appeared before him soon enough and she went about her usual checks, fussing, brushing his hair away from his face, trying to move all the ornaments that sat proudly like memory trophies on his window ledge.

“It’s a nice day, isn’t it, Harold? The air is very crisp.”

He thought about how horrible the day was and how the low temperatures made him feel as though he was the Tin Man from that film Thea used to watch all the time.

Daring to peek up from under his bushy, overgrown eyebrows, he glanced the nurse’s way. It was the one he neither cared for or despised, so he quickly looked back down at his hands again.

“Always so full of conversation,” she said through an obvious smile as she walked over to his bed and began to straighten out his pillows and sheets. “That’s alright by me. I know you’re not a morning person. You remind me of my husband. He doesn’t speak to anyone until it’s after lunch and he’s had at least four cups of coffee.” She laughed, more to herself than with him, and carried on with her business.

Harold’s lips parted to protest and a small scowl formed on his forehead. He wanted to tell her that the mornings were his favourite time of day. He wanted to tell her that when he first woke up, he was reflective. He was as optimistic as he was going to be for at least another twenty-four hours. He wanted to share memories of him and Thea drinking cups of tea in their conservatory, the two of them watching the sun slowly rise before their children woke up and demanded their attention. But before he let himself slip, he pressed his lips back together and continued to stare down at those ridiculously prominent veins on his hands.

The nurse moved closer, and without looking up, Harold knew it was time for his daily medication. The bottle of pills rattled in her hand as she unscrewed the cap and placed his dose on the small table in front of him. Then she quickly made her way to the bathroom to get him a half-filled glass of water before she returned and held the drink out in front of him.

His hand shook as he reached up, but she was patient as she waited for him to gain the strength he needed to lift the pills and the water to his mouth. They stuck in his throat like sandy rocks, but he didn’t flinch or show her his discomfort. Once he had finished, Harold looked up at her through wide, helpless eyes and waited for her to say what they always said.

Her soft smile turned into a bright grin as she took the glass from him and tilted her head to the side. “You’re doing well, Harold. You’re doing really well.”

With that, she took off out of the room, reminding him before she left that he only needed to call for them if he required help.

Once the silence surrounded him again, he turned his head to look at the other fascination in his life.

His wife.

Thea was there. She was always there. Sitting opposite him with a smile on her ghostly face, her eyes alive with that twinkle she had always reserved for him and him alone. He saw her every day. He felt her every second. But he never let anyone know. It terrified him that they might make him take more pills to stop the hallucinations, and Harold knew that if they took his Thea away from him ever again, he wouldn’t have the strength to live for another moment longer.

She was beautiful as she sat quietly in front of him. The Thea that visited him these days was younger than he was – young enough to be his daughter. Her rich, red hair was in thick, bouncy curls, and she was wearing that lovely light blue dress that fell just below her knees and hugged her waist. It was the outfit she’d worn on one of their very first dates and had always been a favourite of his.

She never spoke. He wasn’t even sure that she could, but he loved the fact that she listened so intently, her unspoken words somehow guiding him through the last days of his life.

Allowing himself to smile for the first time that morning, relieved that he could keep his promise for another day – the promise of always giving his best smiles to her until the day he died – Harold blew out a shaky breath and spoke quietly.

“They say I’m doing well, Thea,” he began, his fingers curling into his palms as he felt the rush of blood surge through his cold veins. “But they don’t know how ready I am to be with you now.”

Thea blinked slowly, her smile never fading as she gave him a small, sympathetic nod of her head.

“They say I’m doing well,” he repeated in a whisper. “But I think deep down, they must know that I’m not.”

His wife’s head fell to the side as she stared into his eyes, unleashing her magic on him just like she had done all those years ago.

Harold wished he could rush over there, sweep her up into his arms and press his lips against hers. He wished he could drop her down on the bed, curl around her small, familiar body and fall asleep with her in his arms. He wished he could hear her laugh, or even her cry, just one more time.

He wished and he wished and he wished and he wished until wishing became breathing and breathing became painful once again.

“Get your dancing shoes ready, my darling,” he croaked in another whisper. “When I meet you in heaven, we’re never sitting down again. We’re going to dance for eternity.”

Then he smiled brightly as Thea’s eyes lit up with excitement, and before he knew it, he was laughing that charming laugh he used to own forty years ago, and his wife’s cheeks were blushing, despite their lack of warmth.

Harold’s grandpa had been right all those years ago. His veins were full to the brim now, and that was why they were sat proudly under his skin. He had so many memories… so much love, so much light, so much happiness, it was only a matter of time now before they burst on him.

And he found that, despite his fears, he couldn’t wait for that to happen after all.

Victoria L. James © 2016

author bio

Victoria L. James is a teenage girl stuck in a thirty-something year-old’s body. Living somewhere ‘oop north’ in England, she has had a strong passion for words and stories going as far back as she can remember, which she credits to her grandmother and her love of reading anything that was on sale and cheap from the local market stall. Never once did she think she would release a novel, though. At best, she thought her love of language and her ability to create stories in her mind would provide her with a ‘get out of jail free’ card whenever she messed up and her parents were mad at her during her teenage years… and when even that didn’t work out, she thought she was pretty much done for.

When an opportunity presented itself for her to take a back seat from paid working life for a few years, she knew straight away that she had to try and write about a few of these worlds she’d come up with along the way, and quieten all the voices in her head without racking up a heavy psychiatry bill for the pleasure.

Wearing her heart on her sleeve and trying to lighten her friends’ and family’s lives with naff, and more often than not, badly-timed, nineties jokes, she has yet to learn the art of knowing when to shut up. Which is another reason writing became a passion of hers. With pen and paper, there are no limits.

A firm believer in never quitting, with a ridiculous obsession for all things Rocky, she hopes that one day she writes a story that will inspire at least one person out there to keep on going if they’re struggling. Other than that, she’s just a regular old converse wearing, corona sipping, English version of Chandler Bing, who loves and adores her family more than life itself. Oh, and she also has two cats. Every writer has to mention their cats, right?

http://www.victorialjames.blogspot.co.uk

http://www.facebook.com/VictoriaLJamesAuthor

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Thank you so much for taking part Victoria!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

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