1st Prize: £150.00 Emma Rogers
2nd Prize: £100.00 Gary Adams
3rd Prize: £75.00 L.Jackson
Breaking with Tradition
by Emma Rogers
I made such an effort every year. Neat little sandwiches, old family favourites like egg mayonnaise all with the crusts cut off. There would be home-made pies, fruit and jam tarts; all washed down with ginger ale and a few cans of beer for the men. I would start organizing it about a month ahead, sending notes to the whole family, rallying them round. I knew they only attended begrudgingly, but I couldn’t give in. It was like a mission, I was holding the threads of the family together. It was important. I knew I was trying to take mum’s place, not that I ever could, but I think she would be happy that I was willing to step into the role.
This year though, it was just me and the girls. Not even my husband could be forced from his spot in front of the TV. “Stephen’s not going, so neither am I.” He had been adamant, even when I had sulked and stropped about in the kitchen. Stephen, my errant brother had something better to do, some new woman in his life and he couldn’t seem to drag himself away from her.
It hurt. I saw it as an end to a family tradition and complete betrayal; it was just for a few hours, surely they could have made the effort.
I put all the goodies in the picnic basket and wiped away my tears. I wouldn’t ruin it for the girls but couldn’t help but wonder if they would want to cry off from the picnic soon too. As we made our way into the beautiful gardens, greeted by ornate statues and grand old oak trees, my mood lifted a little at least. I felt close to mum here. I missed her. I couldn’t believe my brother didn’t feel the same way. The girls were enjoying it though. Katie and Laurel were rolling around in the grass, even with ten years between them, the years slipped away as they chased each other around the gardens. I let the sunlight and warmth envelop me and the tension slip away too. All that was left was a deep feeling of sadness at my core. It wouldn’t dissipate either.
Left alone to my own thoughts, I sank easily into my fondest memories. Mum laughing as my brother and Stephen splashed the girls from the nearby river. Mum slipping my girls some money for ice-creams when she thought no-one was looking. This place held so many memories for me, that I knew I would still come here when alone. A shadow fell across me and I looked up, squinting into the sunlight.
“Yes, it’s me. I suddenly realized what this day meant to you and I felt pretty lousy for not coming. “ He admitted. “ Richard is on his way too.”
I smiled with relief. It wasn’t all over, I was still holding things together somehow. “ Food?” I offered up a plate of slightly curling sandwiches as a peace offering.
“Hmm, think I will pass, but maybe one of those beers….” He drank with appreciation and then set off after the girls, squeezing my shoulder as he did so. The touch was comforting. It told me more than words, it told me that this family tradition would continue. I smiled as I watched my husband also coming towards me, a smile lighting up his face. Today was a good day. My family was complete.