Mostly they were incoherent slugs


Most days I didn’t care,
would get down on the
floor with her, stamp
my feet, scream my woes
and mimic bitter tears of
unfairness. I’d laugh at
passerbys, smile wide
and loud at their stares.

I pitied them,
so blind by their ego
of judgement, they
couldn’t see for shit,
they were the problem,
the catalyst, such hate
in their eager hearts…
still, mostly I ignored

…but some days
I was all soul and
less warrior, tears
burning, fear
enveloping, then
snippets of hope
in a strangers eyes,
Knowing nods that
needed no words,
and those gentle,
featherlight fingers
that broke through
my tangled aura for
a millisecond…
… unassuming
all knowing,
one soul to another
in those moments
upon the stage
with an ugly audience
of egos.

A simple touch,
that said so much.

Karen Hayward ©2018

Image found on pinterest
#autism #spd #ASD #Unity

The mouse among the wolves.

Word prompt, survival

The banging lady

You can’t meet my eye and in your voice I hear that you want to cry. You’re relieved as my cat strangles his way through your legs and you run your fingers through his fur that we say is black but is really a dark and beautiful deep ginger. Your voice is tiny compared to the one I hear screaming at four in the morning, you want to apologise, I see it at the tip of your tongue and in your promise of a future in the questions that you ask about my studies. Your apology is not required, not here, not to me, although an explanation for the banging would be greatly received. Today I saw a mouse squinting in the moon light, pleading for the stars to shine just a little, for her, to give her the smallest glimmer of hope, I could not give her hope, so I gave her my time, my forgiveness and my friendship, the rest is up to her, survival comes to those willing to make the changes.


Karen Hayward ©2016


Hope. Life writing.


Apparently I had a little left over from yesterdays writing prompt hope!

And in the beginning…we all have an in the beginning, a point in time when we hit the rocky depths of the abyss and we pleaded with whatever God we could find that would listen, for some light, even if at that time it came only in the form of a shadow. If you are yet to experience this moment, then I promise you it will come, it haunts your existence waiting in the shadows to reveal to you, who it is you truly are. We’ve all seen the quotes telling the world that strength is a hidden beauty discovered somewhere in the pits of hell…or something along those lines, so there’s no need for me to tell you this. And so it is that, in the darkness I have discovered my strengths. As a writer it always intrigues me to discover where a person writes from, more than once I have been told we write from the pains of society, lost love, lost freedoms and the iron bars of true identity and as much as I would like to say this is invalid, it is entirely true. Every word we spill onto the page is the fulfillment of the yin and yang concept, to see beauty we must know of ugliness, to know love we must understand hate, to know pain we must recall a time when we felt nothing. My life is seemingly filled with ‘and in the beginnings’ that I am only aware of when I speak of my past and I see the look in others eyes, such a simple response and in that moment they inadvertently make me feel some how ashamed of my nonchalant descriptions…and I wonder am I broken? My husband says to me in that strained, ‘the holy fuck are you doing’ voice that he gets when he see’s me climbing the step ladders, ‘Please don’t do these things.’ and I think, don’t do what? don’t live? You see I recall that moment of darkness as though it were tattooed across my skin, in a sense it is, it’s tattooed through my muscles, pain, there is not a single day when I will forget that feeling of ripping my back muscle, again and again and again until the days blurred into weeks and the weeks blurred into years and the pain was finally defined as chronic until the brain no longer knew the difference between what hurt and what didn’t. And of all the, in the beginning moments in my life pain has been the most defining. I recall the darkness that seeped into my mind stealing away my dreams bit by bit until the abyss was the only hope I had left. For the first time in my life I didn’t know how to rise above this pain. I was rapidly forgetting what it felt like to feel no pain in my body until that day when I forgot, it was gone, I could no longer recall the freedom of pain free movement. It amazes me how we recall with ease the moment in our lives when the world imploded and yet try as I might I don’t recall when it changed, when the pain become a low buzzing that I could once again at the very least try to fight, I don’t recall when I started to hear the birds sing again, or feel the beauty of the sun against my naked skin, I don’t recall when the world became as amazing as what it now is.  Each day is a day I never believed would come and so I am creating new dreams as I wander through, redefining the rules and creating a reality just for me. I saw a quote yesterday that said something like, ‘a goal without plans is just a wish,’  I’ve been surviving on stolen wishes for years, this was not the life I was meant to have and yet I would not trade who I am now for anything this world can offer. I don’t ever want to write from the pains of my past, from the broken childhood to the teenage years that were shrouded in darkness and coveted by guardian angels I never knew existed to the realisation of having your every dream swiped away from you, but in reality it is in the blank canvas of the unknown that I discovered beauty. It is here in the muscles that scream in pain  that I discovered a stubbornness to survive, a need to see beauty, a desire to feel passion but mostly I learned that i could depend on myself alone my every need could be fulfilled by me and there may come a day when I have to put pen to paper and declare in poetic melody that I built my walls to high, that the ones that love me cannot reach me and I will write in scribbled letters of the key that was always there, but they just never opened their eyes to see. And so in the beginning when the world I wanted became the world I could not have darkness seeped in and stole away my light, but somewhere in that deep abyss a small flame flickered, perhaps the flame that tells me my past is just that, or perhaps the whispered strength of wisdom or maybe the last flame of hope.


Karen Hayward ©2016

Butterfly wings.


My butterfly stands waiting at the window for her fluttering friend to arrive. Patience has kept her there for 90 minutes and the time has still not come, so still she waits as she teeters on the edge of forever. Shoes on, hair self brushed and bag packed with the teddy. The pink teddy that is almost nine, just like her. The sun is falling across her mousy blonde hair, streaks are appearing, she says, mum, take the colour of your hair so I can see the real colour, go look in a mirror I tell her. She giggles and shows me her matching freckle by the base her thumb, just like mine. How many minutes, she asks, a while I reply knowing no answer will appease her as time has currently stopped in her world. I sit back and watch her, her eyes are sparkling and I see the tiny fluttering of her wings…my phone beeps. ‘They’re on their way sweety’. I swear I just saw her soul soar into the sky and do somersaults. 

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

The Thunder storm.

Some more life writing from A215.

As far back as I can remember I have always been afraid of thunder storms. I can; if I must, trace it back to the exact day, when the harmless flashes in the sky and soft rumblings went from being an act of god, to being a deadly act of nature, that had the power to bring the strongest woman I know to her knees.
I was barely eight years old. I remember the change in atmosphere inside the old Victorian classroom. A darkness that the teacher tried in vain to hide behind the flourescent lights. A silence that somehow felt warm and soothing as our pencils run across the page. I half hoped that the reddening sky was an indication of snow, I was still young and my mind was only just beginning to become aware of its surroundings. Seasons were something the teacher spoke about, they came and went, it made perfect sense to me that day as I sat in front of my wooden desk, that summer had ended and winter had arrived with its snow filled clouds.
I don’t remember how I got home. Whether I walked alone, or someone met me. I just recall sitting on the couch staring out of the window at the sky. I was so mesmerised by the colours of muted orange combined with a dirty grey. Anticipation bubbled in my stomach, a change was coming.
My Gran was visiting. She sat at the far end of the couch. Her silver white hair pinned back into a perfect bun, her blue house coat taut across her bust. Her skin was perfect, wrinkle free, I still have no idea how old she is, but I feel sure now that she is older than her appearance suggests. She smiled her warm smile at me. Her small lips pulled in tight, her eyes grinning happily at me. A change was coming, a change that would leave a dent in my persona for years to come.
I sat listening to my mother and gran talking. My mum is Scottish but has mastered the English accent to almost perfection. Sitting there listening however she slipped back into her Scottish roots. My gran’s accent was always the hardest to understand. Her strong Scottish accent carried her southern Irish roots heavily. Listening to them talk was beautiful. There accents acted as reassurance that I was amongst family.
A flash filled the room. The air was sucked from my lungs as the peaceful room became a chaotic scene. My grans voice boomed throughout the house the soft warm accent replaced by her Irish roots as a harsh to be feared scream echoed, my mum came running into the room. I had never seen my grans hair down lose before. It was long, so long it fell down her back into a perfect point settling just above her buttocks, the metal Kirby grips were discarded into the kitchen. ‘Stay down’ she shouted at me, she needn’t have shouted I was rooted to the spot. I watched as she scooped my younger sister up into her arms, one tug and the terry nappy fell to the floor, the metal safety pins discarded, also into the kitchen. My mum spun through the living room switching of the plug sockets the tv died, leaving a small white flash in the centre of the screen. ‘Stay down, stay down.’ she demanded as if knowing what was coming next. The bang shook through the house, tears sprung to my eyes. Loud and long. My hands begun to shake. ‘Its okay, its just god.’ she said. For the first time I knew she was lying. She pressed her fingers to her St Christopher and started mumbling, her words were fast and cloaked in accent.
I sat there unsure of why I wasn’t allowed to move, unsure of what would happen if I did. Flashes continued to fill the room as the storm grew closer. ‘Count between the flashes.’ someone said. I felt that the red sky had betrayed me.
Before long I begun twitching in my seat. My own body was betraying me as I tried hard, to not think about the wee that was filling my bladder. Desperation was not far away and I began to panic. ‘Go toilet.’ my mum demanded. I was suddenly aware of how much I missed my dad. I had only been living at my mums house for a couple of months, bought up by my dad I was still finding my feet in this new and confusing home. ‘It wont be for long’ he had said as he kissed me good bye. I longed now for his reassuring words, for his lies that god was banging around up stairs playing with the light switches, I wanted anything but the truth, this truth.
I don’t know if finally someone told me or if perhaps I conjoured my own image but I somehow knew. The lightening was waiting for an unsuspecting person to cross between the windows. It raged through the sky getting angrier and angrier as it missed. I could see the path it would take. Crashing through the back window that over looked the garden before zapping the life out of whoever dared to move. I was eight years old and scared, and in my young and innocent mind I believed that my mum wanted that person to be me, she wanted me to stand up, to sacrifice myself to thunderous god above, and move before the window, she wanted the lightening to take me, she didn’t want me.

There was a storm last night. He slowly rumbled through the skies. It waited till the dead of night, when its flashes would cause the most fright. The sheets of lightening filled the entire sky, once twice three times in a matter of seconds I pulled the cover up over my head, hating that the flashes had the power to penetrate through my eye lids, there is no escape from the angry light that fills the night. The rumbles were low and long, grumbling through the torrential rain. As the storm grew closer I quivered beneath the bed clothes, the windows of my once safe bedroom taunting me with their threat of death. I counted, 1,2,3,4 and jumped as the room shook. I listened to the in-between sounds, the soft snores from the other room, I listened to innocence of her as she slept through the anger. Until gratefully I fell into slumber, grateful that another storm had passed without me passing this terrible fear onto my beautiful daughter, who believes that every once in a while even god needs to go onto the time out chair.

The Bumble Bee. Life Writing.

This is some life writing I did last year whilst completing A215 Creative writing with the Open university.

The Bumble Bee.


Is there a mystical force at work just outside my front door? I sometimes wonder. It’s the portal between reality and home and something always has to happen just as we cross its boundary. I’m suspicious when it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s a forgotten item; water bottles, coats and jumpers. Sometimes it’s the wonder of nature, the streaming rain or howling winds. Today it was a Bumble Bee, I didn’t hear the little wings flapping furiously in flight, or see its black and yellow suit of armour, but Emily did. She stood rooted to the spot, just there, at the door entrance, one foot in one foot out. Complete silence fell upon us as she stood un-moving, her arms out stretched, her face frozen into a position of fear.
‘Mum it’s a bee.’ she said, her eye’s glancing toward me.
I took a deep breath and let the front door slam shut, hoping to scare the ferocious flying insect away. I knew better than to question the where abouts of the bee, instead I repeated the same mantra I have repeated since the first day she discovered that they have a stinger attached to them.
‘It’s ok leave the bee alone and it will leave you alone.’ I said, hoping my voice was convincing enough.
We were running late and any delay would mean cancelling our quick stop of at the park. Her fear quickly thawed as the buzz became a distant hum and off we went.
I don’t like bee’s they move to fast and appear out of no where. Avoid them, that’s the advice, but how when they insist on following you? I hide my fear, or at least I try too. Emily-Rose is a naturally anxious child. She doesn’t need the burden of another persons fear on her young shoulders. So I don’t scream or wave my arms around in a frenzied attempt to avoid the bee, I simply take a deep breath and move away, whilst my thumping heart attempts to break through my rib cage.
‘Have you ever been stunged by a bee mum?’ she said.
I dread these questions. I want to tell her the truth. Nothing good ever comes from a lie, but am I just fuelling her fear? The problem with impromptu questions is you never have time to consider the right way to answer it. The swings are calling us with the schools bell echoing fast behind it, the sun is distracting and the morning rush is upon us.
And there you go the answer is out there, I know what the next question will be, am I prepared? Of course not, I’m too busy enjoying the feel of the warm rays of sun that are finally spilling across my skin.
‘Did it hurt?’
‘Yes it did.’ I said.
Her face looks a picture of horror. Her blue eyes open wide, and her jaw dropped open, I have just destroyed her world. I am mum, I am indestructible, nothing hurts me. I can see the words swimming around in her mind, if the bee sting hurt mum then what will it do to her? Its time to slow down the pace and have ourselves a serious conversation.
‘I was the same age as you. Me and my friends were playing on the big log at the far end of the school playing field when I got stung.’
‘You was just little?’
Children have such a hard time imagining their parents were ever small. They see the pictures and have heard the stories, but like ogres monsters and dragons they suspect these are just ugly rumours or amazing fairy tales, what they are not, is true. In Emily’s world, little mum is an entirely different being to who I am now, she is a small child with blue eyes and yellow hair that looks distinctively like Emily’s most recent school photo. Little mum is a world of amazing bedtime stories and soft tears in granddad’s eyes as he recalls the days gone by, little mum is photographic evidence and prove of our connection little mum is not and never will be big mum, not in Emily’s world.
‘Yep, I was just little.’
I breath deep knowing I have redeemed myself. I am once again Superwoman and nothing can hurt me. I hold her hand a little tighter, her soft fingers interlocking with mine. The sun is beating down on our backs, the birds are chirping and there is a cheerful energy all around us.
‘Did you cry mum?’
‘Yes, a little.’
Here I am again lying to her. Parents would make fantastic politicians, we seem to constantly lie, or bend the truth as a politician might say. Yes I did cry, I screamed so loud that my brother heard it from the other side of the playing field. He came charging over demanding to know who was hurting his sister. My brother had the cutest little face back then. The family blue eyes and porcelain white skin all set together with orange hair, that’s right orange. There are so many ways to describe his hair, auburn, strawberry blonde, ginger or orange. Carrot top that’s what they called him once, just once because he also had the temper to match. So standing there by the old long forgotten log at the far end of the play ground beneath the summer blue skies I screamed whilst my brother attempted to defend my honour.
‘Did it hurt a lot?’
Did it hurt a lot? An amazingly simple question that requires such a complex answer. What she is really asking is what happened next? Did an ambulance come rushing onto the school field with its red and blue lights flashing, did I lose a limb, did a war break out around me the little people versus the bees, was a potion required that could only be obtained from the highest peaks of the highest mountains. She wasn’t looking for a simple yes or no, she wanted to know everything.
‘No just a little.’
‘Did you have to go ‘ospital ?’
‘No. No hospital. They stuck an onion on it and made me sit in a classroom.’
‘An ONION, where did it stinged you?’
‘It was on my neck, but it’s all healed now’
Of course this revelation means we have to stop so she can investigate my neck. Her small hands hold back my hair and she leans in closely, other mums, dads and people with kids are having to walk around us as we kneel in the middle of the cold damp alley that leads to the school gates. The sun never reaches this far and the alley is always cold and dreary, no flowers grow here, no bees fly here.
‘Mum, if you get stinged in your belly the sting goes right through and you die.’
And there we go, her fear of the little buzzing black and yellow insect has a root cause.
‘Emily, has daddy been letting you watch futurama again?’ I know the answer is yes before she even has to speak. Mentally I am thinking of the best way to handle the situation, should I string him up first and then torture him? Or perhaps a marathon day of Barbie movies will do the trick?