And Breathe by Jamie Graham

Louisa’s bare feet took the brunt of the mini cheddar crumbs as she trudged towards the cupboard under the stairs to fetch her meditation cushion. A lot of the mums were doing it now, as well as Prosecco, to balance things out.

Beige oversized living room curtains drawn, she clambered down into position, pausing for a moment, only to hear Magnus clattering around in the kitchen, despite the door being closed.

Make space for the memories… and breathe.

“Mummy! I have a super important question,” her son announced, skidding into the living room like Bambi on ice.

Teddy’s query was another in a long line to stall going to sleep. Louisa had never been a contestant on Mastermind and wanted to scream that she didn’t know why some people’s favourite colour was blue when his friend Charlie’s was orange. Teddy duly despatched, Louisa settled cross-legged again.

Find room to remember…


Teddy had apparently tried eleven times to get to sleep but couldn’t. He’d been out of the room for less than two minutes.

“This is mummy-time now, Ted. Please go to bed and read your greedy goose book.”

“Hate you!” came his reply, but amazingly, her seven-year-old left the room as he was told, taking his skinny frame and dark brown curls back upstairs, but not without a bit of stomping for effect.

Her cheekbones tingled, eyelids three quarters closed. Silence enveloped her as she focused on her breathing. Whenever motionless, Louisa would get a brief reprieve, like someone had paused the movie at just the right time.

Our brains can become stuck, like a broken record… 

In the space behind her eyes, a stream of consciousness resurfaced, the memory from two years ago when they had first started dating…

Threadbare canopies above, rustling, swooshing, dancing in the fading winter hue as she’d walked hand-in-hand with her new fella, Magnus. Teddy’s dad was long gone – he’d never wanted kids in the first place. Louisa didn’t want Ted growing up as an only child, maybe Magnus could end up being the one? The heron soared up from its hidden position by the lake, casting a shadow and transfixing them as Teddy threw some cheese sandwich crusts towards the gaggle.

She creaked and groaned to her feet before peering between the thin gap in the curtains. Teddy was outside now, topless in the cul-de-sac, pointing his plastic telescope up at the shimmering stars. She watched him speed off down the street, her pulse racing, imagination out of control. He was wearing his favourite Batman pyjama trousers, broken glass glistening in the gutter under artificial lights, like sun-kissed ripples of water.

She’d missed these early relationship days. The tingling excitement, lost in someone’s eyes and feeling them hold her like she meant something. Cold lips locked on an old wooden bench that had seen better days, her head was in the clouds. Teddy waddled away, telling them he thought kissing was really yukky!

Louisa pushed open the UPVC window fully to call him in, but Magnus had shuffled through from the kitchen, that daft apron with the muscles on it, around his neck. He placed his hand softly on her shoulder, so not to startle her. He whispered, “I’ve made your favourite, come through.”

The sudden honking and flurry of wings a few minutes later had alerted them to the bright blue jacket floating in amongst the reeds. Her next embrace came after hauling her limp son from the water.

…and breathe.


Jamie Graham is a Scottish writer and Seinfeld addict on the wrong side of 40. You can follow him on Twitter @jgrahamwriter.