Pay attention closely and you realise that this life of yours is cyclical. A gently binding circle of rituals and routines you wander in and out of. A marionette dancing to a distant tune, twisting and turning, but never quite resting, because the music changes but it never, ever stops. You notice now how much you stand outside yourself. Observing. Sometimes there is housework, spells of cleaning that destroy your fingerprints. Because you should. Sometimes there is nothing, too much to do, nothingness. Dreams of someone you could have belonged to. More housework. The femme fatale scaring even herself. Because you can’t help yourself. The must be dones…

A marionette in the palest pink ballet shoes and a dress made of promise.

It is the end of January. You wonder at the sheer effort it must take for the daffodils to force their pretty heads up out of the earth. You guard them silently. Dreading another frost. Holding your breath for the blossoming of your beloved chamelia. Desperate to carry just one bud into the house and consume the very certainty of Spring. Adoring the ritual of the seasons.

Your legs ache but you don’t know why, imagining it is just the weight of Winter. Exhaustion from carrying the layers of cosy quilts it takes to keep you warm at night.

Night time. In a frenzy of self-improvement you write lists. 101 Things you want to do in your life. 30 things you want to do by March. 5 things you musn’t forget to do tomorrow. You sit each night, shiny, scrubbed, clean as a new pin and count the books you have taken from libraries in two different counties. 39 books waiting to be devoured, bothering the back of your mind like you have been employed to read and time is running out. And so you read. Speed reading your way through other peoples nightmares, crazy schemes, and poetry. Far too much poetry. Scrawling words that resound with you into a notebook crawling with fronds of ivy. Writing three different recipes for tomato chutney next to them in absolute certainty that though you don’t like chutney, you are a grown up now and you will teach yourself to like it. Chutney and olives. You will teach yourself to like olives. A rainbow of the funny little things stuffed with feta probably because it is the only way you can even begin to imagine they can be endured. It is on your list…

You chat on the phone. Text like a teenager. Wait breathlessly for the jingle of a return text and occasionally turn down the sound and stare unblinkingly at it, waiting for it to flash: for the outside world to come tell jokes in your living room. Then you go to bed and overheat, staring in astonishment at the rash flooding your chest, blinking in the sudden light and listening to the woman next door choking on laughter all of her own. Why is she, another single mother in her own little box and me in mine? Aren’t houses funny? These barriers we build between loneliness.

Daytime. You go through the car wash all by yourself and feel you deserve some kind of brave lady medal. Your little boy is worried about child-thieves. He says he is sure one is going to take him away and then he will never be allowed back, ever, never, ever. He isn’t worried. If it happens it happens, he says. For the shortest of seconds you imagine him safe somewhere else, a child thief just like Mary Poppins. You allowed to walk out the front door at night, to go jogging. Running like the wind. Though you never run. Wouldn’t know how. But that tiny taste of freedom is enough to bring the bitter taste of disgust at yourself dancing through your veins all over again. You are the kind of mummy who wishes her little boy away. You are a bad person. Simply typing these words, telling the awful truth is enough to prove that. You pack a gluten free flapjack into his little french nursery suitcase and hope he never discovers who you occasionally are.

Then you go to the library again. Frustration at your broadband problems making you feel snarly, then suddenly calm again. Sitting at the keyboard and letting your fingers make sense of everything. At home there is banana bread, wrapped in foil, on the delicious verge of staleness.  Later your little angel will snuggle up on the sofa with you, twisting your finger through his ringlets and talking nonsense, revealing more irrational wonder and worry and reminding you why. Why. Why. Tell me why little baby. I suspect you have the answers…

Because there is tomorrow Mummy? And banana bread? And 101 things to do before you die?Because we mustn’t miss another episode of Horrid Henry? Because I love you?