I call myself a writer and my own experiences should nurture my writing. Remembering to capture the physicality of emotion is not always a priority but over the last 24 hours I have suffered a full spectrum of fearful senses.
It began when the whistle blew.
What now? That was the most perfectly placed kick, well I thought and so did those round me.
He‘d had the ball and the huge thugs from the opposing team were thundering towards him. He had his best friend out on the wing, the telepathy between them finely tuned. He would kick the ball, Stuart would run as fast as he could, catch it and take it over the line adding 5 more points to the home scoreboard.
It started well, he kicked, the ball arced beautifully up and the supporters lifted their heads to watch and follow as the ball almost in slow motion came flawlessly down toward Stuart’s welcoming arms.
So much can happen in a split second.
A rush of heady pride filled my heart and I felt heat swell against my ribcage almost threatening to burst through as I watched No 1 Son’s kick land safely and precisely.
Why then did the referee blow his whistle, no one was offside, No 1 Son was playing his coveted position of No 10 and the kick was in. Stuart like all the supporters was furious. Why stop the game?
Glancing back to see if I could catch his expression and offer my sympathies I could not see Number 1 Son. Where he kicked from there was a body on the floor. In the corner of my eye I can see the team physio running on to the pitch. Where was he, green shirts standing around but none wearing his Number 10?
Fear, that’s what this feeling is, I search the pitch. The ref is telling off one of the opposing thugs and by the gesticulating he is not happy.
Can everyone hear my heart, it beats so loudly, my stomach has pinched so tight I feel sick. It could have been 5 minutes on pitch but it felt an eternity before the tableau on the far side of the pitch helped him stand. He could not support his weight and went down again, a friend already hobbling having been taken out earlier in the game came and assisted him to hobble off the pitch. I breathed.
A late tackle!
At least he was not unconscious. But it was not Number 1 Son’s head I was concerned about or even his life now he was up; it was his future most certainly as a rugby player, his as yet, only true love. He was holding his hip.
As followers of my blog will know well; Number 1 Son’s hips and I have been on a long and very painful journey. How can you feel hot and cold at the same time? I was seething with a red hot anger that someone had hurt him, I was physically shaking with no control over it, the slow creeping cold of concern growing up from deep within my core dousing the heat and I found I was gasping each time I remembered to allow myself to breath.
Instinctively I wanted to run across the pitch thump the thug and pick up my 20 year old baby in my arms and rush him to the hospital to be checked over.
I refrained and went through an overwhelming excess of emotions in just a fleeting moment.
I was hot, my muscles were taut and ready to throw a punch at my son’s attacker. My safety did not register on my emotional scale. How dare the opposition tackle my boy, even if it was a game. He had tackled late and that is not allowed for a very good reason; it is unsafe.
Finally Number 1 Son made it round to the bench. He was unhappy and it was his hip that was hurting. Did he want me to take him to hospital?
Not at the moment; the glare told me, in front of the team’s pretty physio and his team mates and coaches. His face told me the other story, but I knew here and now I wasn’t going to win. I no longer felt that I was going to be sick but my stomach was bruised with the wringing it had been given. My heart was still beating fast but maybe not as loud, it too ached with bruising. With each breath though still came a silent prayer that he would be alright.
He played no more of the match and was helped by team mates to join in the end of game tunnel of clapping where both teams clap the other through. Far more gallant than I felt towards the opposing team who had effectively removed 4 from the game and possibly future ones, and injured and bloodied many more still struggling off the pitch. He then joined his team in the changing room whilst I waited in the bar for his arrival, only allowing myself reassurance when he arrived walking, albeit a little awkwardly, unaided with pint in hand.
It was only the morning after when I was out jogging, very slowly. As dawn rises so much later these days I leave the house in darkness and head for the main road where the street lights remain on through the night. I was on my way home and had turned off the main road to come through the lower part of the estate, I know the road and route very well even if I could see very little. It was quiet, very quiet and suddenly I was shocked by the hushed sound of another pair of footsteps contrasting with mine.
I could see nothing and my heart missed at least one beat; I felt it could be more. I took a deep breath and I could feel my hairs stand on the back of my neck cat like. We were in touching distance before I could make his shape out. I felt every nerve in my body tighten in readiness, for what I did not know but the fleeting thought of sprint went through my mind.
He was taller than me and his face hidden in darkness, his head with a hoody, his dark close fitting trousers and his trainers only really visible now. He was so close as we passed on the pavement I could hear his breathing, not hard or fast, his arm brushed mine fleetingly.
I pulled back without thinking and my pace quickened without any conscious input from me. My hands had formed fists and I flexed them to check my only weapons, my nails were prepared. Back to the middle of the empty road and I kept the faster rhythm going. I know someone living here, and here and here just in case. Of what?
Here was I clothed in dark hoody, black leggings and trainers breathing fast and furious and so ready for flight if it was needed. Fear cloaking me and preparing me to fight I was still breathing fast and I was alert to every tiny sound, every nuance of movement.
My potential attacker disappeared as quickly as he had appeared probably on his way to his own day and routine and I suspect he didn’t even register he had passed me. One thing I am sure, my presence will not have caused the reactions in him, his caused to me.
In less than 24 hours I had experienced the two very different extremes of fear and this week those moments of fear will come in very useful as I edit Memories. I need to remember those intense non cognisant responses and use them in my own writing.
An update on No 1 Son, he is walking slightly better and hobbling around. He will not be playing for a week or two but I suspect he will be back as soon as he can.