I went out for dinner with a couple of friends last night (I had the tandoori – it was lovely) and we got to talking about films.
They recommended one to me and I could not believe what it was about. Basically, it had exactly the same premise as something I’d worked on (and since given up on) a couple of years ago.
Here’s the trailer.
And here’s the opening to my story.
It was too late when the couple decided they wanted a baby. Although their hearts were good and warm, their bodies were creased and tired, they were wrinkled, stiff, and worn, and when they tried it hurt.
‘There must be another way,’ said one to the other, and the other agreed. And they found one.
So they collected good things. All the good things they could think of. All that would make a child good. They collected their favourite things. They collected strong things, sweet things, pretty things and honest things. And when they were finished collecting they put them all in a pot and stirred them, together, like it was soup. They added autumn leaves (for hair colour) and they added a sprig of mint (for her eyes) and they stirred in cherry blossom and milk for her skin.
And after they stirred, they cooked.
And after they’d stirred and after they’d cooked they took what they’d made and they wrapped it in tissue paper, soft and strong, and they bound it with a green ribbon. They took their bundle, soft and sweet-smelling, out into the garden and they planted it in the good soil over by their fence, where the sun could see it and where it could reach.
And they waited.
For weeks, they waited.
For months, they waited.
They waited for years.
And as those years passed the couple grew older and bonier, weaker and more wrinkled and creased. They grew tired and they ached and they spent most of their time asleep or dozing, in front of their fire or in the kitchen, looking out over their garden – or upstairs, close, under their sheets. And they checked their garden daily, even when it was difficult. Even when their joints felt rusted and rough, even when the ground was sodden or frozen or baked. Even when the rain bit them, when the snow stung, and when the wind knifed.
One day, as they dozed and coughed in their kitchen, cups of tea cold and forgotten on the table in front of them, a cry came from the garden. It woke the old man, slowly at first. Disbelieving, at first, but soon wide-eyed and excited. He rushed, as best he could, through the door and, breathlessly, along the path, past the fish pond, through the orchard, and into the neat square of garden over-looking the lake, his joints creaking and sore. But he thought little of it.
And there she was, perfect and tiny and smooth, and he picked her up and carried her inside. Wrapped her in the softest towels he’d bought and laundered every week so they’d be ready, just in case.
He cradled the girl and he gently shook his wife to rouse her, and she was slow to wake and her eyes were slow to focus and her brain was slow to understand.
‘A girl,’ he said, and she was quick to smile then and her cheeks flushed and her joy was sudden.
She took the child from her husband and she held it in those bony old arms of hers and she said, ‘Our baby,’ and she told her husband that the love she felt for her seemed as though it had always been there.
And when she died, only weeks later, she was a happy old lady, and, for those last few weeks she seemed to forget the pain in her joints and she seemed to ignore her rasping cough and she didn’t stop smiling, not once, not even in her sleep, and that reminded her husband of nights long ago. And, after, he was left to cope.”
Now, it’s a pretty uncomplicated situation as, I’ve already said, I’d shelved my story. But if I hadn’t then I’m not sure I could have continued because, well, it wouldn’t have looked very good, would it? Crazy huh? At least I know that my ideas are up there with Disney’s. Now, wouldn’t that be a lovely omen!