Charli Mills continues to prompt us thus:
March 23, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write an adventure, experienced or witnessed. Explore your own ideas about what makes an adventurous spirit. Is it in the doing? Does standing witness count, and if so, how? Be adventurous!
It is a wonder that I am the sort of person I am now, bungy jumping and white water rafting as I’ve undertaken in the last year or so. I was a timid little boy whose attempts at anything involving the spirit of adventure nearly always ended in a cropper (though to be fair to my younger self I usually had a go, even if rather half heartedly)
- at 12 I went on a Scout Jamboree and nearly drowned in the swimming pool having assumed that ploughing across the middle of a crowded pool doing my new no arms back stroke would get me out of trouble and not realising I still needed to be able to touch the bottom
- I fell off a zip wire at another scout camp – probably aged 10 – because the strength of my arms was not sufficient for the weight of the rest of me. Fortunately I fell into a tree. I might add scout camps are dangerous places – I’ve been chased by wasps in Scotland, had a horse fly take a bite from my most private of places in the latrines in West Wales (an experience I turned into fiction in my first book) and sunk into peat bogs throughout the British isles with the same facility that most politicians watch their career aspirations sink under the weight of their own hubris
- I followed my dog along the cliff top and failed to recognize his weight and mine weren’t in the same ball park so while the path held him it didn’t hold me – this is the one and only time I have turned a complete somersault while in mid air and dropping, with no mat beneath me – this time a small shrub, possibly aspen cushioned my fall – are you noticing a pattern?
I’ve had innumerable bicycle crashes, some through mechanical failure, some the result of third party incompetence and some whose fault must be laid at my own door – or as my gym teacher put it after 3 of us came a cropper on some equipment and he was asked to explain what had happened to the school nurse ‘…the others were unlucky but Le Pard was on a frolic of his own’. History will record I rarely if ever damaged third parties or their goods though one prat fall that involved me cycling in to the back of a bread van (quite literally did I go in to said van) did render a cottage loaf and two large tins less than edible.
But we grow up and I’m a stubborn sod who always wanted to be one of those devil may care boys who did stuff and were admired for their chutzpah. What took me time to realise was, back then, just taking part didn’t cut it. You needed to be successful to be recognised. But as we age – I hesitate to suggest this covers any sort of maturation – it is the taking part that is admired and, indeed, glorious failure is often given a higher status than winning. So my general ineptitude and ability to survive have come into their own as the decades pass. That is perhaps why I keep putting myself out there. One day I will feel the love and be respected for these manly pursuits.
And so to the flash and Mary, in Ireland with her brother seeking out her twin sister from whom she was separated soon after their birth.
Sometimes adventures aren’t all they’re cracked up to be
Mary and Rupert had finally found their sister, Katherine. She lived and died in Newbay, cared for first by adoptive parents and then her sister, all now dead. Her grave was tidy and they laid flowers. It seemed she had been simple – that was the word used.
‘Mrs North?’ The man was nervous, turning his hat in his hands.
‘There’s something you should know.’ He spoke slowly, barely making eye contact.
‘The Sisters of Mercy?’
The man nodded. ‘Back then it was the only answer.’
Mary stared at Rupert. He sighed, ‘The adventure continues’.
She felt so tired.
And if you’d like to follow Mary’s story from the start, click here