The Exhausted Mother



The Exhausted Mother by August Heyn

This is a story I wrote during lockdown when we were all stuck inside, many of us with lots of children to feed and entertain.  Motherhood has never been easy.  Inspired by the painting by August Heyn

They hadn’t been out of the house for months.  Stay at home.  Don’t spread the disease.  They said it was the plague.  Painted crosses had started appearing on houses further down the street.  Whatever it was, was spreading.  That was all very well but there were seven of them living in two rooms on an upper floor of an overcrowded street of timber framed makeshift prisons.  Most people didn’t bother to go out anymore – they didn’t want to risk catching anything and bringing it into the home.  The streets were deserted except for the scavengers.  The big houses had already had their kitchens stripped bare – their owners had long since scarpered for the country.  Her baby now had her own cot which some little lord or lady must have slept in; they all had shiny new clothes “borrowed”, her husband said, from a stranger’s wardrobe; and she and her husband had fine new tapestried chairs to sit on.  The novelty of having new things had soon worn off.
She encouraged her husband in his enterprises and to go out because if he didn’t go out every now and again she would probably end up killing him. There was always the worry that he was bringing the disease home but they had been lucky so far.  When he was home he paced around the living room like a caged bear.  He took no interest in looking after the children – that was women’s work.  He wouldn’t read to them or teach them to write their letters.  There was no work to be had.  Everything had shut down.  He did what he did to feel like the man of the house.  He was providing for them.  She just wished he would provide the right things. 
How were you supposed to explain to four children under ten that they couldn’t go outside; they couldn’t see their friends; there was no tea tonight.  They’d grown lethargic in recent days and had stopped asking to go out.  That was worse.  They were tired and hungry. The baby was the least of her worries – she couldn’t ask questions yet and didn’t know any different.  She probably thought it was normal having all your family around you all the time. 
The next youngest stood looking up at her in her borrowed finery.  “Mummy, I’m hungry.”  And she just put her head in her hands and wept.

The Shadow Man

I think that I first was inspired with this character when I saw a figure in a hat on the back of my wardrobe door when I was a child. (It was actually a dressing gown/coats hung on a hook, but it could have been a mysterious figure like the Shadow Man! This is a small excerpt of a new story about a child who hears noises under the bed and has to go and investigate! Let me know what you think!


Silently a figure stepped out from among the folds of the dressing gown and coats hanging on the back of the door, dressed in a tricorne hat and a cloak with a deep red velvet lining. His boots were leather and glistened in the moonlight, and he wore a shiny sword in his belt. Noiselessly he moved around Jamie’s room calming the curtains dancing at the window and righting the sad pile of books lying twitching on the floor.

Jamie watched all this trembling under safety of his duvet, afraid to set foot on the floor, in case the shadows caught him and the fierce monster who lived in the chasm gobbled him up. The Shadow Man showed no fear of the noises under the bed. He stepped up to the edge of the bed, towering in the darkness. Jamie hid his head under the covers. Close up he was quite terrifying – he must have been a hundred feet tall and his face was scarred and his eyes were dark under his hat. He looked as though he might know all of your secrets. His hand rested on the sword in his belt and Jamie could now see that there was also a pistol tucked into the folds of his cloak – not one of the ones that soldiers had nowadays. This one looked old and worn but it shined as if it was polished regularly. “James,” he said, and his voice was soft and gravelly. How does he know my name? Jamie asked himself. “James, you must come with me. We have work to do.”

Writing Challenge – Invisibility

This was a recent challenge that I did. It turned out to be quite dark…

I’m not afraid.  I should be, but I’m choosing not to think about it.  No fear – no problem – no fear.

Nobody could see me.  I was invisible in an invisible city.  There would be no shame, no judgement, no cat calling.  It was liberating.

They gave the order to liberate the city from its crippling insecurities and made everyone invisible and guess what?  People became happy.  They were lonelier but happy.

Continue reading

What do you get…?

…When you mix together the following images? A new story!

boy fishing
Boy Fishing
Girl Fishing
Girl Fishing
Beach Cleaning
Beach Cleaning
Plastic Bottles
Plastic Bottles

Plastic in our Oceans

So my idea is for a story about the levels of plastic in our seas…this is just one article full of scary inspiration! There will be more info to follow soon including some initial artwork! Very exciting 🙂 CLICK HERE

And some stories of hope: