A distant mountain

New Zealand, 2003

New Zealand, 2003


The umbrellas come down when the wind gathers speed.

One snapped once when a fast sudden breeze picked up the parasol like a sail and carried it halfway down the mountain. One man was injured (mild bruising), one toddler thought creepy shopkeeper had conjured up a storm but there were no fatalities.

They take time to bring down, those umbrellas, winding and winding, turning the handle. No instant whoosh like a brolly you would use in the rain. Do you remember the one you had when you were small? The clear one that curved down over your shoulders. There was a picture of a cat chasing a mouse that ran along the bottom edge. I remember seeing you, standing in front of me, wearing a pair of red wellington boots and a pale pink raincoat. You were holding that umbrella making faces at me through the transparent plastic. That was the last time I saw you, all those years ago.

Whatever happened? Where did she take you? No one ever said. He fell apart after she took you away. Every day I watched his soul shrivel up inside his body and the memory of you haunt his face. He became grey and dry, devoid of all love as if you’d taken every bit of it with you. I can’t tell him that you sent me that letter when you were finally old enough to leave her. I’m sorry I didn’t reply. I couldn’t. I didn’t know what to say. What do you say? It broke him when she took you. There were many nights, days, weeks, months, years, I seethed with anger. Resentment tied up my insides into a knot of hate. If you ever lead her back to him, I will find you. I will find you. I will find you. I will find you.

Feeling brave? Want to share your story? In the words of one Disney princess, Let it go, in the comments below.