Garage roofs. Memories.


When I was young my brother taught me all the places to hide so as to avoid the wrath of our mum. She once came in from work and on seeing that there was washing up still needing doing she stood at the back door and smashed plate after plate after bowl. The cupboards were bare. My brother is just a year older than me, we have the same blue eyes and pale skin and soft temperament. He taught me to shimmy up between the ‘Turkish’ garage and ours, ‘don’t worry about the blackberry thorns’, he said as he trampled them down. ‘Just shimmy up’, he said. Climbing up was easy, we would lay on the roof and watch planes snaking through deep blue skies. She never could reach us up there and she soon forgot what it was she had been planning to punish me for. I missed many a dinner in those days, often waiting until after dark when i was alone, before I let the tears fall as the realisation hit, he had taught me to get up but never how to get down again. These were the days when I forgot my childhood and aged beyond my years. Gaining a wisdom that would become the essence of my soul.

Karen Hayward ©2016

Superman can you teach me to fly?

Never forget. Life has this way of bashing our childhood innocence out of us with a sledgehammer and power saw leaving us fucked up, old, boring and without spirit. For some people this is the path they long for and good on them if this is case. It’s not for me. I’ve been there, trapped inside a mind that isn’t allowed out to play, trapped inside a reality that refuses to allow any kind of fantasy. I can’t remove these iron bars I still lack that key, but until then my spirit will slip between the bars and spread its wings among the clouds.

This morning coming back from the school run I saw the same Mum I see every day half dragging a mini gang of young kids in their uniforms up the road, she’s tired it hangs heavy in her eyes, this morning I saw her smile for the first time since the beginning of this school year.

Let me set the scene, i’m walking slowly down the road, dawdling cos my muscles are all pretty broken today, i’m thinking about how the yellow and red tulip looks like a flame when I hear the kid shout out…

Boy: Superman! Hi Superman! (He’s looking directly at me and suddenly I realise he is speaking to me….my Superman T-shirt to be more specific). 

Me: Hi…..(I’m Superman I can’t ignore him!) 

Boy: Super……(he’s not sure what to call me, he can see i’m female, but can’t find the female version of Superman, so he sticks with it) man, Superman, can I ask a question? (He’s past me now and is walking backwards, his Mum is still dragging him up the road….I say dragging in a nice way)

I stop and turn to face him, his face is a picture, he’s grinning ear to ear.

Boy: Can you teach me to fly?

Me: Not today, my cloak is in the wash. 

Boy: Can you teach me another day?

Me: So long as my cloak is clean and I have it with me I can….

And that’s when I see her smiling, he has his Mothers smile, she’s now half dragging and half giggling. She still looks tired but far less stressed. His three sisters and brother are all smiling too. They’re happy.

Boy: Yes!! Bye Superman! 

Me: Bye kiddo, have a super day at school kids!

I hear him screaming ‘Bye Superman’. until they pass around the corner at the end of the road. In that instant I am reminded of the days when Super heroes meant everything to me, in a world where I could not trust anyone, I could at the very least believe in the hope that Super heroes offer.  It reminded me of the innocence of childhood, an innocence that for some is escapism and for others, simply a world they wish to believe in, either way his innocence is beautiful and my soul is blessed, if only for a moment to have seen such beauty.


Karen Hayward ©2016

It will soon be summer.


It will soon be summer and my skin will be kissed with soft rouge. The whites of my eyes will shine and the blues will become deep pools of paradise oceans. Blackberries will grow wildly in forgotten alleys pecked by hungry birds. The days will be too hot and the nights hotter. We’ll store up old bottles with a ‘squirter’ lid and we’ll cool our bodies with impromptu water fights. We’ll scream as we hop from one foot to another when the cold water hits our skin. There will be squeals of delight as we cool before the setting sun. Laughter will echo. There will be Bee’s and we will panic. We will rise before the world awakes and walk along the shore before the buzzle of tourists arrive. There will be people, so many people. Sand will coat the bottom of the bath, bags, shoes, socks we’ll still be finding it months after summer leaves. The towels will smell of the ocean and our shell collection will be replenished. I will collect shards of glass that have been worn down by the tide. We will visit nature reserve a and walk in the silence of trees, sunlight dancing through through the leaves. We will collect fossils to show the Naze man and he will laugh with us at our collection, he will give you a Sharks tooth and tell you how the shark emitted it from its body hundreds of years  before, you my dear will giggle and thank him. We will stand on the edge and peer over, we will peer up, I will ponder the process of evolution. The nights will drag as the heat simmers in the air and stars will look down at us, there eyes sparkling. The summer will be with us soon and before we know it Autumn will be knocking at our door with the falling leaves.

Karen Hayward ©2016 words and image.

A strangers deja vu.

You resemble a 3d image straight of the cover of the new look catalogue.
Killer boots elevating your ego,
that symbolic clinking across the tiles with an air of ownership two steps behind the tail of your coat trailing the dream.
Your blank stare searches the shop for someone, you need someone, anyone, to scream your name in a show of merciless identity.
No one does.
So you follow the dull looking guy beside you.
You’re together, but separate.
You’re a looker, so very pretty.
The camel coloured coat that skims your shins and is tied only by a belt belongs to a lady, perhaps a couple of sizes larger than yourself too.
The clinking heels tell me you are short, still growing.
The makeup a daring act.
He enters the shop as you hover outside, no bag on your arm, no possessions of adulthood.
You are a kid, 13 maybe trying out the adult world for size, you are drowning in the symbolic clothing.
He hands you your smokes.
The token reward, you follow him home.
I am living a strangers deja vu, I pray that arch angel Michael still resides in those dank rooms of despair as you tread the concrete path, left, pass the urine stained phone boxes and left again.
I wonder if Bernie ever died and who watches over the broken now.

Karen Hayward ©2016.

I wish I had of known you.

Dedicated to all of the friends I have made along the way, the parents/grandparents and relatives and sometime’s just simply the people who get it!

I wish I had known you when

the health visitor asked

‘Is that all she can say?’

I wish I had known you that day

full of doom and gloom,

the first time sitting in the

children’s outpatient waiting room.

I wish I had known you

the first day it became inappropriate

for her to cry and freeze

in the super market, all eyes on me.

On the outside I was a rock

on the inside pink melting candy floss.

I wish I had known you when she was five

and still the stairs she screamed were too high.

I wish I had known you then.

It would have been nice to have had a friend.

I wish I had known you when the first friend

dropped away, communications just came to an end.

I wish I had known you every step of the way,

because had I , I’d have been able to say…

You’re doing just fine,

you’re so very kind,

I’ve a moment to hear

I can always be near.

As you hit each new issue

and reach for a tissue

I would have listened.

I would have stood at your side

been along for the ride.

I wish we would have known each other

back then,

when all of us felt alone and needed a friend.

Karen Hayward ©2015


Discuss your first love.30 day writing challenge.

Hmmm this is an interesting question as it doesn’t specify what type of love. I could tell you about the young girl that was entirely in love with her Dad that she followed him everywhere. Or about my first and only dog, Spade, an old English sheep dog that came too us wrapped up inside my Dad’s coat a tiny bundle of fur that was apparently a heinz 57 (cross breed) and was never going to grow any higher than your knee…this was not true! I could tell you about my first male best friend who I loved so very dearly or, or I could tell you about the first boyfriend that I fell in love with. My biggest concern about talking about first love is that somewhere over the years we romanticize these things, we make the bare ugly truth, beautiful.

Still, here goes. I suspect I was maybe 14 at the time. The very first time I met him was late on a Friday night, I was getting ready to go out to a nightclub (yeah yeah I know I was underage!) when the doorbell went. It was another male friend, I invited them in, I was home alone at the time and we sat in the living room chatting. I was wearing a long black dress and asked if *first love would mind doing it up at the back for me. We flirted innocently. He had long hair that he wore tied back, he was 16 maybe 17 and working at the local amusements. I don’t know what happened next. I think the next day he turned up at my place alone, we chatted and before I knew it he was becoming something to me.

We went out together for about 6 months. We got on very well and very rarely argued. For some reason finding words to describe him is hard, it’s like I have a private stash of them but they are protected. I protect them because the relationship was perfect, and even now we are still friends.  I say perfect not because the relationship was all daisies and glitter, but because it was honest. When the day came when we realised we were too young to settle we were honest and we cut each other free. Not the easiest thing to do and over the first week of our seperation there were a lot of tear and confusion (he would finish work and appear at my door, forgetting we were no longer together. But it’s that honesty that has always stayed with me.


Karen Hayward ©2015