Smoke and Mirrors

Spring flowers always make me think of a story that I remember being told as a child. A story so clear in my mind that I am able to visualise it as if I was there and in a way I was…almost.

While my mum was heavily pregnant with me she had no fixed abode and travelled the country in a small van. My father drove and my mother navigated-when it was time to move on she would close her eyes and point at a map, leaving their next destination to chance. The way my Mum tells it is that on this particular day she felt restless and decided to go for a walk in the spring sunshine. As she passed a wooded area she noticed a ribbon of bluebells carpeting the ground and they beckoned her off the path and into the shade. As she proceeded to pick a bunch to take with her, her waters broke and I was very nearly delivered right then and there. The story always ended with me being told that I was almost named Bluebell.

It will not have gone unnoticed that the story seems to come to an abrupt end and you are right, it does. Yet this short abrupt story has become part of who I am-part of my story. Whenever I engage in a conversation about my name or the responsibility of choosing a name, this story immediately springs to mind and I can’t be sure that it is actually true. Adults are very good at painting a child’s world with stories and misinformation in such a way that they form many of the long lasting memories the child carries with them, colouring their adult life.

Another of mine is being told that when I was very young my father became ill and had to be hospitalised. As a result I did not see him for months as I was not allowed to visit him in the hospital. Several adults told me this story and having no reason to doubt them it became a story that I would share with others and with repetition it became a part of me, even if I could not remember that period of my existance. In my mid-teens I discovered that my father had actually spent time in prison and that the adults in my life, fearing that I may remember his absence and ask difficult questions, had decided to concoct an alternative reality. This particular revelation took some time for me to get my head around, it felt as if I was being told that everything I thought that I knew about myself was actually a carefully constructed distraction.

Not all of the stories are as personal and many of them could be shared by my peers. How many of you remember being told that “If the wind changes direction your face will stay like that” or “You should eat your crusts, they put hairs on your chest” or “Eating apple pips will make a tree grow in your belly and it will grow out of the top of your head”. Looking at them written here now I can smile at just how silly they are, but as a child I gave them considerably more credence than was warranted.

Forever with me are my truths-those which are genuinely mine and those that were given to me by others.

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Amanda Bird

Amanda Bird

Amanda has always thought of herself as an armchair traveller, and since early childhood books and stories have provided the portal to other worlds. Her love of reading sparked a passion for writing and she has been writing stories since... a very long time ago! She now lives in Hove, and the view allows space for her imagination to roam.
Amanda Bird

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