In Response to the Prompt ‘Who do I admire?’

I know she left you that morning – waited till you were on your way to work and packed her bag. I know she collected a few toys for the children and, holding one by his tiny hand and carrying the other, I know she walked away.

She didn’t have the courage to tell you any of this was going to happen. There was no warning that the text that beeped, bleating its bleak arrival, was going to be a swansong to your marriage, a farewell to your life and all you knew.

You texted her back, furious, desperate. I’m sure you were bewildered too. I know the crushing chest pain that comes with that kind of shock, I remember the sudden fear, the adrenaline rush, the taut tight muscles.

She replied. Swearing, undignified. She said you weren’t going to see the children, those rosy faces, those soft curls. Their blue eyes are your eyes and the pain of this, oh, the rabid fury.

You crunched the gears. Choking back bile and vitriol and words. Your hands were slippery on the wheel. The sweat. The arbitrary task of getting to work. For what? The pointlessness swung like a pendulum in your mind, crashing emphatically against the inside of your skull, hammering home the emptiness.

I know you slowed down then, careful not to lose control of the car. You tapped the dashboard with your worried fingers, trying to beat out a solution. The next message you sent was kind, pleading, apologetic.

Her reply was an almost-instant sting. Painful. Sharp.

You remembered all the moments, the births of your children, the tears after fights, the times when your heads bent so close together in laughter that her breath gusted into your mouth. That was the message you didn’t finish, half a line begging for something that will never be written.

I admire the way you carry on. How you put one foot in front of the other every day. I am in awe of how you kiss your children, of the way you imagine them growing up and manage to see that future without monsters round every corner. I admire the way you move food to your mouth and chew, of how you can still swallow, taste, sip without everything turning to mud.

You drove into the back of my son’s racing bike because you were writing a text. He died instantly.

I am in awe of how you know that and, yet, live.


This is my entry for the competition.



8 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh my goodness – such a clever piece and with a really tough moral message. I’d just relaxed, thinking that at least he was getting over it and wasn’t going to kill his wife and/or children and then you deliver the shock of the ending. Brilliant. And, quite apart from the interesting angle on admiration, such an evocative portrait of the break-up of a family, too.


    1. ansteysp says:

      Thank you, Lynne!


  2. ansteysp says:

    The angle on admiration is caused by me remembering the prompt as ‘in awe of’. Not quite the same… But hey.

    AND I hadn’t realised that this is the second piece n this series with this theme – weird.


  3. fayfran says:

    Wow, the punch of realisation over why it was “the message you didn’t finish”. Terrific, powerful work. Can’t help but think of the ghost bike on the A258…


    1. ansteysp says:

      Well spotted. I pass Daniel’s ghost bike almost every day and I wonder, almost as frequently, how his killer ‘copes’. If he threw up his hands and admitted that – although horrific – accidents happen and that he would give his own life to change what happened, then fine, let him who is without sin etc. But that’s not what has happened.

      As a cyclist, a driver, and a citizen I am constantly amazed – and horrified – by the number of people in Deal who, despite the needless death of a beautiful young man, keep on texting at the wheel. I didn’t even realise that I’d covered this topic twice in these pieces – I might write a collection (called ‘I’d Hang You All if it Were Up to Me’)(even though I am DEEPLY opposed to capital punishment)(for any crime).

      Ah, rant over. For now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jessjoysite says:

    That made me gasp out loud. What a great take on the prompt. You totally led me by the hand through the entire piece wherever you wanted and then dropped that last little bit of vital information. Really well executed- I feel ashamed that you made me feel sorry for him. Brilliant xx


    1. ansteysp says:

      Thanks, Jess. I” about to tuck into yours and Fay’s – I’m excited!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. profbenj says:

    We do like our gut-wrenching endings, don’t we?! I wasn’t at all sure where this was going. I can see your problem with the emotion of being ;in awe of’ is rather different from ‘admiring’. I could feel the panic in his brain. Pointlessness ‘swinging like a pendulum in your mind’ was a nice image.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s