Although as I have already said, writing creatively is something I have aspired towards all my life but it wasn’t until 2009 that I started to write Mr Charalambus and the One Soul. I had the story line more or less complete in my head before I began. Although I had decided on the main characters and where everything should go, it wasn’t set in stone and was affected by mood and character development. Sadly about halfway through the story the family was visited by tragedy. It left me unwilling and unable to write for many weeks and when I got back to it the character of Morag came out almost fully formed. She seemed to talk for me and explained something of how I felt without me having too. I don’t know what might have happened without her.
This was how she first tried to explain the extent of her mind numbing grief:
She looked at me and I could see the pain and grief reflected in the puffy pallor of the skin beneath her swollen red eyes and the grey sickly film that muted the ruddiness of her cheeks. It was easy to picture Mrs Fisher as the strong and handsome woman she had so recently been, before her proud features had become ravaged by the burdensome weight of grief that gave the poor mother no respite and no release. The tears flowed freely down her stricken face and she took a deep breath before continuing. ‘If only we had known.’ She shook her head and blinked her eyes furiously. ‘The screaming started again ….and ….we woke up….a-and B-Ben had gone…’ She took another ragged breath and blew the air slowly out through her mouth in a valiant effort to remain in control. She described the panic that passed between husband and wife when they discovered the front door standing wide open. Benjamin ran to the small stable next to the barn and found that Ben’s pony and saddle were missing. Mrs Fisher paused and I watched closely in silence as her eyes misted over. Her face twitched and contorted with the effort to counter the effects of profound sadness and other complex underlying emotions that were harder to understand. Although in some way I knew these feelings would include anger, denial, even a little self blame and guilt. I was also sure that part of her inner conflict would be the belief that if they had not moved to the ranch in the first place then her son would still be alive.
She fought to regain the power of speech but each time she tried to speak the words seemed to stick in her throat. Her mouth opened and closed as she gasped soundlessly for air. I waited for her to form the words she found so hard to voice. ‘Benjamin went out on his horse and ...and…f-found Ben at the bo-bottom of the tor...’ She looked directly at me, her eyes wide and overflowing with endless tears. ‘H-he was dead…’ Her resolve melted and she collapsed onto the table, shoulders heaving as she wept violently. Tadpole looked at me in desperation but somehow I understood that she should be allowed to weep and our only role was to act as silent witness.
She cried for several minutes and was held tightly by a distraught Tadpole. I left my hand gently on her forearm and waited as she sobbed and continued to question why such a thing could have happened and what could have driven their child to his death. Mrs Fisher continued to believe her son had been unable to escape his fate. She was adamant he would not willingly have taken his own life. ‘..H-he didn’t know how to m-make it stop....’
I think there are times in our lives when we want to believe people do the things they do because they don’t feel they have any other choice. People who stand on the outside may see other choices but that is all too easy for them. To people caught up in a cycle of desperation the obvious solutions are theirs to see. They don’t see ours. Peter.