Tag Archives: escape

Going Underground – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

abandoned subway station - City Hall Station, in New York

Abandoned Subway by John Paul Palescandolo & Eric Kazmirek, featured Daily Mail 2012

Talin grabbed Cae’s arm, yanking her away from the wall and down to the ground. Cae yelped, but dropped beside him cursing at the cry she’d uttered. She bristled as his arm swept across her chest in a protective gesture and he held her against the crumbling wall. Falling bricks and concrete echoed amid the crash of shattering glass, and dust clouds rushed round the corner.

They pulled bandana scarves up and over their mouths and shrank back. A billowing fog of debris and death smothered the back street, and they remained crushed against each other and the broken wall.

Moments later, Cae impatiently pushed against Talin’s restraining arm and signalled to him. Reluctantly, he released her and followed as she began to creep, toe to heel, along the wall, her dirty fingers clutching at the disintegrating brick as the ground trembled beneath their feet.

Fog and dust swirled and rotors whirred above them, the hum of drones hovered, and Talin moved behind Cae, wiping the dirt and grease from his goggles. He could hear her breath wheezing behind her neckerchief, and knew her asthma was playing up. He reached out to slow her, but she was gone.

Explosions and splintering glass still rang in his ears as tenements crashed and collapsed behind him, and as he bolted forward, the ground disappeared and he fell through the same rotten boards Cae had.

He landed in a pile of rubbish with an oomph that juddered through his body. He jumped as a hand rested on his leg, as Cae grabbed him and pulled him to his feet. He knew it was Cae as her breath still rasped and rattled, and he immediately snatched her backpack off her shoulders. Even in the gloom he knew what he was looking for and his fingers quickly located her inhaler. They slipped off the mound of rubble and waste, and collapsed onto cold concrete. Talin found Cae’s hand and pressed the inhaler into it. He heard her cough and then gulp down the medication. There was silence as she held her breath, then she took another puff.

The sound hissed in the eerie silence, and then Cae breathed softly, more measured, and Talin relaxed.

“Where are we?” she panted.

“Don’t talk,” he warned. “We have to move from here, in case we’re tracked.”

“The drones can’t get down here…” began Cae.

“Never say never.” Talin squeezed her arm.

The vague light from above disappeared with a thunderous crash as the wall they’d inched along fell, and more dust and grime mushroomed down the hole.

“Not know, anyway!” cried Cae, leaping away from the falling stone and filth. She shrugged her backpack on again and felt along her belt until she found the torch hanging at her waist. She flipped the light on and a stark white glow shone out into the dark.

A broken steel ladder barely clung to the wall, rusted and hanging free of its bolts, and they stood inside an alcove. Cae stepped forward and cried out again, “We’re in a tunnel, the old railway!”

Talin pushed past her and stumbled on the ancient iron rails. Regaining his balance, he switched on his own torch and swept it about the tunnel. “Trains haven’t run for years…” He pointed his light at the tracks. “But these rails look so clean…”

“We shouldn’t be down here…” whispered Cae, clinging suddenly to his arm.

“Rather here, than up there,” said Talin, patting her hand. “And there’s no way back up there.”

Together they moved forward, following the tracks, stepping from sleeper to sleeper, their pace increasing as they hurried over the wooden stepping stones. Torch light bobbed ahead of them and they flinched as the sound of devastation continued to rain above.

The sound of war lessened the further they ran, until up ahead a soft golden glow shone like a candle in a window. The tunnel widened opening up into a vast domed underground station. Cae gripped Talin’s hand as they slowed to a walk then they stopped as two tiny red lights shone in the dark.

The red dots danced lightly across their chests, settling on their hearts. They stopped and waited.

Two women, dressed in combat trousers and torn jackets, with rifles and military boots, stood before them. “Friend or foe?” they asked in unison.

“We were escaping… I’m Talin, this is my sister, Cae.”

Broad smiles lit the women’s faces, “Talin, Cae, welcome to the Resistance.”

6c195d394e709b0cfd47dce8416778fd_christian-page-divider-clip-christmas-underline-clipart_560-420

Another great photo prompt from Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge over at Finding Clarity.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

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Free Spirits and Happiness

I yearn for freedom, for open skies, hills to run, and oceans to swim.
I yearn for the ability to drop everything and escape when life gets too much,
and sometimes I do. Sometimes I need to escape.

Free Spirits and Happiness - The Last Krystallos
My own views on mortality herald free-agency as a major part of our existence, and though life and circumstance does its best to trap us, freedom and reaching for our dreams is the key to happiness.

Dryslwyn-Castle-Lisa-The-Last-Krystallos-June-2016

© Lisa Shambrook

What is happiness? There’s a quote which says ‘Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.’ Henry David Thoreau. Sometimes we put too much into trying to find happiness when we should be enjoying life as it is, reaching for the stars, and supping at life’s great feast. Happiness can be the simplest of things to some, like bare feet on dewy grass, or the riches of life, like an expensive glass of champagne, to another, but it’s the liberty of choice that offers both of these.

Many of us regard things we own as the things which make us happy. I could list a fair few possessions that I love which make me happy, we all could, but what are the most important things?

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© Lisa Shambrook

They say when you love something you must set it free ‘If you love something, let it go. If it returns, it’s yours; if it doesn’t, it wasn’t. If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.’ (Commonly attributed to Richard Bach)

The-Bird-of-Happiness-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

There’s a story I remember as a child, a Swedish tale, retold in a picture book I adored. It told the story of The Bird of Happiness. A little boy loses his kite and is upset at its loss. An old man tells him possession is not happiness. Then tells the children the story of a bird, a beautiful golden bird, and it showers a village with happiness. Everyone was happy, and no one was in need while the bird flew and watched over them. Then one day the people began to worry what would happen if the bird ever left, if it forsake them, and they lost their happiness so they decided to build a cage. It was a fine cage, a magnificent cage of pure gold, and while the bird was asleep they trapped it and shut it in the cage.
Every day people came to see the bird, and it was sad, but no one could see. It refused to eat and its golden feathers dulled, and as it paled and greyed a twilight descended over the town. The people became unhappy, and the only thing that shone was the golden bird cage. The bird grew tired and smaller every day.
Then one day the sun stopped shining and the sad town grew quiet, and a flicker of a flame ignited in the cage. Everybody came to see as the bird burned and the fire in the cage grew and spread. The heat melted the gold and the bird suddenly rose in splendour from its ashes, bigger and more beautiful than ever. It circled and then left the town forever.
The old man told the children the bird disappeared and the townspeople had to begin to find happiness on their own. The bird now flies free and every now and then drops a tear or a feather and lights up someone’s life.

My freedoms are important to me, like the bird of happiness, without the ability to be free, to soar and to fly, I could not be happy.

Eowyn-cage-Aragorn-LOTR-Return-Of-The-King-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

In The Lord of The Rings – The Return of the King: Aragorn asks Eowyn, “What do you fear, lady?” and she responds, “A cage.”

Eowyn needed to escape, to be herself, to be a warrior and a fighter, and to reach for her dreams. My happiness lies in my family, foremost, and in nature, in the ability to write and to read and to escape. Perhaps this is why I like motorbikes, and dragons, and I feel like I have the spirit of a cat!

Raven-cat-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I fought for many years to become myself, to spread my wings and to fly. I am forever grateful that my children have learned this truth early. Embrace who you are, embrace what makes you happy, don’t worry about being judged by those around you, they need to find themselves, not worry about who you are!

Lisa-Biker-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Fight to break those bars, to escape the cage that society places you inside. Your reason for life is you. Know yourself and then you can be the person who lifts and encourages, who inspires and stirs those around you to find themselves too. Be the person who frees others, be the one who cares, be the one who’s there.

Drop your tears and feathers into the lives around you and light up someone’s dark day.

Be happy.

What makes you happy?  

Coping with Self-Harm: How to Fight the Urges and Win

I want to talk about self-harm today,
because I’ve been self-harm clean for six month now,
almost to the day, but I still recall the last time I cut.

Coping with self harm, how to fight the self-harm urges and win, the last krystallos,

My brain was mush, my stomach swirled and churned, and I could barely breathe with the weight on my chest. My body shook, shivered, and sweat. A mixture of sadness and anger and nausea overcame me and, as rage developed, I took to the knife. It wasn’t an actual knife – my weapon of choice was a pin, a sharp, but innocuous pin, meant to hold material together, but used for destruction instead of creation. It scratched and scratched at my skin until beads of crimson sprang through and it continued as scarlet dripped from my arm. Tears slipped down my face and choked in my throat and I couldn’t even see or feel what I was doing.

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© Lisa Shambrook excerpt from The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

That scar sits on my arm, an unwanted, but necessary, reminder, just like the others that adorn my skin. I’m not trying to romanticise cutting, but those who do it need to know that they’re not alone, that there are people out there who understand the swathe of emotions and compulsions that attack them – and that they are conquerable.

Yes, I mean that, self-harm is conquerable and you can win. I’ve written before about ways to comprehend, fight and overcome self-harm. If you need to understand or find help please read: Understanding Self-Harm: the Truths and Myths and How to Help.

Self Harm is conquerable, beating self harm, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Self-harm, though, is like any other addiction, or learned behaviour, meaning that to defeat it you will need to continuously fight it. Again, I outlined many ways to help in my previous post, but I want to touch on what helps me most.

Talisman, totem and stim – A talisman is generally a jewel, or a stone, a charm or an item that means something to you. A totem is regarded as the same, a charm or a ritual object (think DiCaprio’s totem in Inception). A stim is a little different; it’s a behaviour – flapping hands, head-banging, repeating noises, words, movements, or smoothing, rubbing or spinning an item. The BBC have a great article on this: Stimming – What autistic people do to feel calmer. (Neurotypicals, or NT’s like me, also use them)

talisman, totem and stim - the last krystallos, self harm,

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve seen many self-harmers use the talisman/stim approach and it can work. Touching a pendant, stroking a ring, clutching a pebble – all stim behaviours with a totem of choice.

I attended a Stress Management course on the NHS, several years ago, when counselling and the such were not available to me, and still aren’t. It gave me many ways to deal with stress and anxiety, but it also tried to encourage those with totems and stims to give them up. They talked about keeping a pebble in your pocket and holding onto it when you felt anxious, something physical and ‘there’. It can help you find strength and courage, I can testify to that, but they tried to inspire those of us that did to train ourselves out of it. Maybe in the long run, it would be better not to have to rely on anything but the strength of your mind, but in the meantime if something works, stick to it!

talisman, totem and stim - acorn cups and hazelnuts - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I have a couple of totems and stims. I keep acorn cups or hazelnut shells in my pocketseverywhere – you won’t find a coat or a bag without one in it. These I use for anxiety and prevention of panic and self-harm. My family find it affectionately weird, but love me for it. I’m a squirrel, claiming acorn caps and random nut shells and if I stop on a walk, it’s because I found a new one.

I have other stims, almost unnoticeably nodding my head (since age 12), picking at my lips, and pulling off scabs and habitually making un-self-harm injuries bleed again, and I used to bite my nails – many will relate to that one! These all precede or accompany anxiety and if I recognise them early, I can use my totem to calm me and prevent self-injury or panic.

The best way I ward off those urges to harm is to polish an acorn cup or hazelnut shell between my fingers. I do it subtly, quietly and imperceptibly hopefully not to bring attention to myself. People have sometimes seen the acorn cup sitting atop my finger but are often too polite to say anything!

In Beneath the Old Oak, my second book, Meg deals with her anxiety using an acorn cup:

‘Meg shifted and reached into her jacket pocket. She retrieved an acorn cup, dipping her thumb into it. Unconsciously, she rubbed it, her thumb smoothing the inside of the cup. A habit she’d had for so long the little wooden talisman was as smooth as silk inside, and even its knobbly exterior was somewhat polished. She ran the cup across her lips, to and fro, and allowed her thoughts to wander.’

Meg’s use is one of habit, an unconscious routine to deal with the anxiety she feels. Sometimes routine, habit and coping strategies bring success, peace and calm. When I am overwhelmed in either the urges I described at the top of this post or with anxiety that feels like it’s crushing me, or panic that’s threatening to push me over the edge, sometimes my acorn cup or my broken-in-half hazelnut shell can calm me enough to prevent more serious behaviour. Some people with these stims feel foolish – don’t. If it saves you it’s worth it.

talisman, totem and stim - acorn cups and hazelnuts - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I’m an empath – I’ll post about that another day – but suffice to say I feel everything. I feel pain sensitively and exquisitely, and sometimes that’s enough to tip me over the edge. This world is full of personal pain, and sometimes I wish I could dull my sense of discernment. Many of us will need to fine tune our senses and learn to cope with the pain the world throws at us. Coping methods are vital to our survival. In my previous article I point out coping strategies including: rubber bands, taking time out, breathing through, ride it out, distraction, know your triggers, remove yourself, be with people, and finding creative ways to release your emotion and stress. Talismans, totems, and stims can be part of this process and help you to overcome the urges when they hit.

But most importantly, know that you’re not alone, that there are people out there who understand and people who have taken time to learn and have compassion. These people will support and help you.  Find what you can to help you deal with self-injury, but maybe the most valuable thing will be talking to someone who understands, or who’s been there, someone who can help you understand and love yourself.

If you can, be that person.

How do you prevent self-destructive urges, or how do you cope with being overwhelmed?

Everyone’s experience is valuable and you may help someone
who needs to hear what you’ve been through.

If you need help, please see your GP, or at least check out some of the
great sites online that can help: NHS ChoicesThe SiteNSPCCHelp Guide

Beneath the Old Oak AD with SynopsisSelf-harm is part of my book ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ and an unedited NaNoWriMo snippet can be read here. To read more of Meg and her mother’s struggles ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ is available on Amazon and Etsy.

“Turn those dreams of escape into hope…”
Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control and she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak, but a devastating storm will change her life forever.

When You Stop Running…

There are many reasons why people run away.
It’s important to have someone to come back to.

when-you-stop-running-the-last-krystallos-titleThe UK police receive more than 100,000 missing adults reports a year. Up to 80 per cent of these adults have mental health issues, and a significant number have experience of domestic violence, financial problems, family conflict, or alcohol problems. It is difficult to find statistics of those who return, but missingpeople.org.uk say few of them receive support to tackle the problems that caused them to go missing in the first place. The police are responsible for undertaking a “Safe and Well Check” soon after a missing person returns to find out where they have been, if they suffered harm, and to provide an opportunity to disclose any offending by or against them. However, following a Safe and Well Check, most adults do not get offered a proper assessment of their health and support needs, or help to get their life back on track, and consequently many go missing again.

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

It’s important to have someone to come back to, someone who will offer support and any help that is necessary. I’ve written about Running Away and how important it is to have someone to come back to…so maybe I should illuminate how I discovered this during a major depressive episode:

I woke empty. My tears were dry though my heart drowned and I moved through the early hours in automaton. I dropped the children at school then returned home. I pulled clothes from my cupboards and zipped up my bag. My heart thumped within the restrictive bounds of my chest, but I refused to allow emotions to surface. My hands shook as I drove. My eyes flicked to and fro like a frightened rabbit and blood pounded through my veins.

I drove. I drove miles and miles…and then kept driving. My hands gripped the wheel and my mind, still empty, focussed on nothing but the road.

I had no idea how far I drove, I just hit the motorway and kept going. Almost two hours later, about to cross the Severn Bridge and a single thought invaded, I had no money and if I crossed the bridge I wouldn’t be able to pay the toll to return.

For a few wild moments I toyed with continuing to drive, but my hands ignored me and pulled into the services. There, in a far corner of the car park, I let the tears fall and they fell until there was nothing left and emptiness filled my heart again.

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I sat in my car for hours unable and unwilling to allow rational thought inside my head, until an alarm sounded. I automatically checked my phone but it was quiet. I tended to get caught up in writing at home and had an alarm that gave me fifteen minutes grace before leaving to collect the children from school.

No alarm had gone off, except the natural alarm within my head. Now thoughts of my children waiting for me at school, waiting for a mother who failed to return filled my mind. Those thoughts swarmed and turned to my husband and I imagined the school trying to contact him when I didn’t turn up. He would find calls queueing on his phone and worry. He would hurry to collect the children with thoughts of his errant wife in the back of his head…or maybe the fore front of his mind.

He’d return with the children to an empty home.

My mind played out the entire week and finally a flicker in my heart lit and fear ignited. The fear of leaving, the fear of being permanently lost overwhelmed me. Now the only thought in my head was home.

I drove those one hundred miles with a hammering heart and a depth I didn’t know I had.

My fifteen minute alarm went off half an hour from home. I was late picking up my children. Reality kicked back in as I got home. My children never noticed the extra bag I carried as they took their own school bags inside and they didn’t see my red eyes, and my empty heart kept well hidden.

Nobody knew about my bid for escape. Nobody knew for a long time.

try not to run away from those you nee let them be there for you, try not to run away, those who care, running away, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

I ran more than once. I ran in different directions. Sometimes I walked out of an empty home, sometimes I left people behind. But, and it’s an important but, when I walked away from family, they kept calling, they left messages, they texted…and when I was ready I returned.

There was always someone there who cared. There was always someone to go home to.

It doesn’t always work out, I know sometimes people run and they don’t come back, but sometimes they do.

And sometimes they don’t run too far or too long. I’m lucky that there is always someone to return to, and that they care enough to support and offer help when I need it.

In Beneath the Old Oak Meg’s mother goes missing due to mental health issues. Meg and her father go through the process of reporting a missing person and the stress, strain and heartbreak that goes with it. The important thing is, no matter what happens to Meg’s mother, her family remain hopeful.

missing persons, missing people, runaways, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

I cannot imagine the heartbreak of having someone you love go missing. If you run, please consider letting your family know you’re okay. The police have a duty of care and will be able to pass on a message and allow you to stay missing if that’s what you want. If you want to return home, again the police and charities they work with can help facilitate and get you home again.

116 000 is the number to call or text for a free and confidential 24 hour service from missingpeople.org.uk or contact your local police station. These links can help to report a missing person: missingpeople.org.uk and gov.uk.

Try not to run, but if you do, always remember those you can trust,
those who love you, those who need you.

Thank goodness for those you can come back to.

BeneathOldOak_Cover_Amazon-(1)-Low-Res-245kbTo read more of running away in ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ the book is available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and Etsy.

‘Turn those dreams of escape into hope…’
Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her Mum’s erratic behaviour, she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape, she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. A storm descends, and Meg needs to survive devastating losses.

Visual Dare: Voice

His stomach still turned even after they set foot on land. Nausea rose in waves and he held his hurting belly in his hands. His headache spread right into his eyes and reeled every time he tried to gaze past the dense thickness of bodies. Interminable days and nights squeezed below deck had stiffened him, and now his little legs could barely manage movement.  “It’s good. We’re safe, we’re safe…” he muttered over and over again. No one would ever try and steal his father away again.

His mother’s hand gripped his like a vice and noise overwhelmed him, but he tried to smile and ignore the anguished and tired cry that left his mother’s tight lips. He gazed through the crowd with sunblind, salt-stained eyes. “Where are they taking Papa?” But no one heard his desperate voice above the cacophony of fear and his mother’s hand slipped through his.

00. VisDare BadgeI haven’t writen Flash in a while, too busy editing, but this picture from Visual Dare spoke to me, especially with all the news features about European Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Just imagine, for a moment, being a small child escaping a country torn apart by war, dictatorial oppression, and/or religious extremism…then being rejected in the very place you hoped to find sanctuary…
If you’re interested this is a great article: 10 truths about Europe’s migrant crisis.

Please, also, take a look at the other stories, each is very different, but very powerful.

Why Do You Read – The Results

Last week, I asked Why Do You Read, and this week we learn why… To sum up the results, I’d like to quote Blue Harvest Creative who pretty much hit the nail on the proverbial head
‘I read to learn, to experience, to feel, to escape, to immerse myself
…it’s something I have to do.’

why do you read, the results, the last krystallos, reasons we read,

This is why we read.

Thank you so much for all those who voted in the poll, I appreciated your time and responses. As an author it’s valuable to understand the reasons why people read. As writers we read much of the time we’re not writing, but sometimes we become so absorbed in our own little worlds, it’s good to remind ourselves of the motives readers have for indulging!

Before giving you the results, I’d like to comment on the ‘Other’ reasons almost 5% of you gave in the poll and you came up with some great reasons:

To maintain my sanity

Reading helps me hone my writing skills

Improve both my writing and reading skills

Research, to be a better writer!

It’s a de-stresser

Ideas! To discover new ideas and new perspectives!

I want to know everything…and…read every single book ever written!

I can attest to all of these, especially how reading improves both my writing and my sanity! As an author, I need to know my market, my subject, and what’s already out there – reading and research aids this. And to the final answer I replied: so many books so little time – the reader and writer lament!

So, to the results – Why Do You Read:

21% read to escape to another world

18% tell me it’s in their DNA, they have to

14% want to experience life they never can without reading books

10% desire to learn something new

9% read to elicit a strong emotion such as fear, joy, grief, or another emotion they might not otherwise experience

8% read to understand the world around them better, to learn about their surroundings

6% read to fill spare time

6% want to experience a different culture or life

5% give us the other reasons listed above

And our final 3% read for school and other education

In conclusion – the most popular answer is to escape…over a fifth of us choose to leave the world behind to escape into another world, to have an adventure, as our main reason for reading. I know many people chose multiple answers, and our reasons are varied and sometimes complicated, but the one most of us choose is to escape.

why-do-you-read-results-books-fantasy-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Reading offers a chance for our brains and our minds to breakout of the lives we lead, to indulge in fantasy, dreams, diversity and essentially time to let our minds catch up with our souls.

Thank you for sharing your reasons with me…

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© Lisa Shambrook

I read for escape, for emotion, for encounters that I cannot experience myself and I read to diversify my life. I want those highs and lows, I want to feel crushing pain and soaring joy – I want to know I’m alive!

I’ve included pictures of some of my favourite books – they have broadened my horizons, encouraged me, informed me, and helped me escape.

why-do-you-read-results-books-classics-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve wandered through the Misty Mountains with Bilbo, I’ve raced across the ice fields with Lyra on the back of a polar bear, I’ve searched the library and the Old Kingdom with Lirael, I’ve sailed upon a surrealist ocean with Pi and his tiger, and I’ve been there when the dark rose. I’ve learned about the holocaust and survival, and wept, with both David and the boy in the striped pyjamas, I became what I was, I learned about the power of memories and colour from Lois Lowry, and Loser didn’t lose. I was delighted by the little Prince, and intrigued by the alphabet. I cried with Beth and loved with Jo. I was anorexic, I loved like no other, I had adventures with the Famous Five and I fell in love with silver brumbies. Books bring me home, they take me away, they let me live and love and when stars fall I know they can still shine!

This is why I read.    

Tell me where books have taken you?

Running Away and Coming Back Again…

People deal with stress, anxiety and panic in different ways.
I’ve always been a runner
and not in the sense of pounding the streets in Nikes with a stopwatch.
I run. That’s what I do. When it all gets too much I run.

running away and coming back again, Lisa Shambrook, the last krystallos, running away, escape, coming home,

The two main responses are Fight or Flight. I fly. I don’t do confrontation – I avoid it all costs. So much so, that I barely ever answer my own telephone. My initial reaction to anything that makes my heart pound is to run. Even love caused me to run a mile, which hubby discovered after only two weeks. As soon as real emotion got involved, my poor heart fluttered and panicked and I was gone. I hid, refusing to answer the door, or the phone, remaining cowered inside my heart until I pulled myself together and accepted that I felt the same. Thankfully he hadn’t given up. Now twenty-three years later, he is, and always has been, my rock.

drapetomania running away, drapetomania, the urge to run away, the last krystallos,

Drapetomania © Lisa Shambrook

My default setting is to escape, and it’s been that way since I was young. I avoided people, lost in books, writing and drawing as a child. The necessity of school meant I had to run the gauntlet of social activities. I was the quiet one, the shy one, the one in the corner. I didn’t stand out surrounded by myriad friends, but the friends I made at school loved me for who I was.

I ran from school several times. Right out of PE – I ran. After assembly – I ran. I ran with a pounding heart and the desperate urge to flee. I ran with blind panic, with anxiety bubbling inside my chest and with no thought of consequence except escape.

From fourteen I suffered depression, and it reared its ugly head with a breakdown at eighteen. My coping mechanisms crashed and after running for so long, I simply stopped. Getting diagnosed with Post-viral Fatigue/ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – CFS) masked the depression, and allowed me to stop running.

Then I met Vince, my rock. I married young and moved to Wales. If that’s not running, I don’t know what is… Three small children kept me busy and finally gave my life reason. I escaped the CFS after a decade, but my depression and anxiety remained. It took ‘til my thirties, an assault and another breakdown before I faced my demons.

And I run til the breath tears my throat The Alarm Rain in the Summertime

Rain in the Summertime – The Alarm – Meme and Photo © Lisa Shambrook

The reasons behind my running emerged and got confronted. The first time I’d confronted my demon, the person I confided in wept, and I comforted them. Then I continued running.

I’ve run from home – just upped and left. I’ve driven away, miles and miles, with no intent to return.

I’ve dreamed, and planned, and run.

I always wanted to escape.

But there was never anywhere to go – so I always came back.

Coming back taught me things. I learned that running doesn’t get you anywhere. It takes you away, it provides emotional distance, but it doesn’t fix a thing. I learned that antidepressants have their place, but they don’t offer solutions. I learned that talking was the only way to move ahead, but the NHS denied me that option. I learned that trust was earned and that the only people who offered me that were already close. I learned that I had value, that I was someone worth loving. I learned to rely on and trust my husband and my children.

They saved me. 

I learned that support is much more than a network, it’s real friends, real people who offer tangible love. I learned that one friend noticing and recognising a self-harm scar can ultimately save your life. I learned that to value yourself, you must love yourself. I learned that when you can’t trust or lean on society, then lean on those who love you. I learned to value myself enough to accept help.

dandelion clock, wishes, lisa shambrook, the last krystallos,

Wishes in Bluebell Woods © Lisa Shambrook

When you feel that life is too much, don’t suffer in silence, talk. Talk to anyone who’ll listen. If you can get professional help, do. If antidepressants help, take them. Try not to run, but if you do, always remember those you can trust, those who love you, those who need you. 

Thank goodness for those you can come back to.

For help with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression see your GP or Health Provider.

Beneath_the_Old_Oak_front_cover_finalRead more of running away in ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and Etsy.

‘Turn those dreams of escape into hope…’ Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her Mum’s erratic behaviour, she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape, she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. A storm descends, and Meg needs to survive devastating losses.

Flash! Friday: The Ending

1896 Olympic marathon. Public domain photo by Burton Holmes.

1896 Olympic marathon. Public domain photo by Burton Holmes.

Mama told me to come away, to come back inside, but I couldn’t.

The first ones ran.

I stared, from my perch on the broken fence, as they hurried past, their concentration on the dusty road and their footfalls, not on me, a grubby child by the wayside. They ran so fast even my blistered legs curved below my torn skirts failed to move them. I winced as I changed position.

There were more, still running, always running, kicking up dirt and ash in clouds behind them as they hastened on. Then they slowed and I stared. Sunken cheeks, dull eyes, scorched rags, and blistered skin…like mine.

He was one of the last, walking, dragging, mumbling and stinking of anguished sweat. I backed away as he reached my fence, and I stared with mistrust in my eyes and escape in my legs.

“War is over,” he slurred. “War is over, my child…”

Tears streamed as my eyes met his. “Papa?”

(160 Words)

0. Flash! FridayFlash! Friday…150 give or take 10 words on the prompt photo above including the word War…some of these are brilliant!

Five Sentence Fiction: Doors

14. FSF Doors

An early morning escape © Lisa Shambrook

Dawn approached, sliding silently across the skies, trailing mackerel clouds and a pale pink sunrise.

Orphic rays and shimmering shafts danced softly on the lawn bathing the morning lark, but his song barely caught Kate’s attention as she buckled the suitcase on the kitchen table.

Organza fluttered at her neck as a cool breeze wandered curiously through the room, and she fingered the iridescent material, fighting the tears that dropped onto the hurriedly packed case now resting at her feet.

Restless fingers fumbled as she repositioned the scarf to cover the now fading circlet of purple and yellow, and she hurriedly grabbed her life with a quick look up at the ceiling.

Sunshine now flooded the small, tidy kitchen and Kate slipped noiselessly out of the back door, closing it gently behind her.

000. NewFSFBadge Bekahcat June 2012

Really enjoying a return to Lillie’s Five Sentence Fiction, the challenge where I cut my flash fiction teeth way back when…have a go yourself and take a look at the other entries.

Blues Buster: Into the West

A haunting, lilting song accompanies this piece…‘I am Going to the West’ by Connie Drover for this week’s Blues Buster at The Tsuruoka Files.

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without permission)
Into the West
Cobwebs undulated in the chilled breeze in the dark corner of the kitchen. She hugged her knees to her chest and squinted at the luminescence from the fridge. The glow disappeared abruptly as he slammed the refrigerator door and opened a can with a malicious hiss. His boots clomped across the linoleum and he callously stepped over her feet. The lounge door clicked shut releasing only a thin strip of yellow light to invade her gloom.
The television blared, her heart pounded and thunder growled throughout her head. Her ears buzzed a high-pitched, tinny sound that threatened to drive her mad. Her body hurt, pain seared through every muscle, every sinew, and her fingers clasped tight around her knees, holding herself together.
She slowly unfurled her fingers, intensely aware of pain. She looked down and bent her index finger, crunching the bones as she righted its angle. Anguish and agony clutched, sinking its ready talons into her fading heart. She stared vacantly at the grease-spattered kitchen tiles, the overflowing crockery in the sink, the broken plate on the floor and her shattered dreams, crushed and ground into the bloody lino at her feet.
A sliver of white light glanced through the grimy window and she cast her gaze towards the beam. She rose, slowly, nervously, and stepped lightly towards the window, her bare feet treading numbly across the splintered china. At the window she pressed her cheek against the cool glass and stared up at the shimmering moon. 
Clouds drifted across the night sky and she stared into their depths, imagining mountains and valleys, and sparkling streams. Starlight sprinkled oceans that swam across the sky and she dived into the glittering deep. She swam, embraced in velvety water, warmth seeping into her cold bones, releasing seized muscles and soothing tension. The moon moved west, casting rays of hope across the navy night, and she burst out of the ocean, wandering on soft pillows of cotton-wool. She danced across waves of green, rolling between the clouds, burying her feet in meadows of everlasting flora and rivers of swaying grass.
She gazed across the firmament, dipping into her dreams, renewing hope. Her bower waited, a copse wreathed within mists and emerald green. She stepped lightly across the night, and settled, resting beneath heaven’s verdant canopy and wind’s gentle blanket, her mind at ease and pain long gone. 
Cobwebs undulated in the chilled breeze in the dark corner of the kitchen. A draught blew through the grimy window and ruffled the hair of her broken shadow that lay cold and still.  
(428 Words)