Time to Grow

Amber Dacres

Restriction breeds growth. Almost an oxymoron of a phrase. How something suffocated, trapped; can grow above the odds, can extend, can bloom.

Day by day the brown dirt lies beside the window. Its surface, basking in the streams of light that come beaming from beyond the glass, smiling upon it with warmth and hope. Sure enough, by day 7, a burst of green shines through to the surface, each day, gaining just a little bit more confidence to stretch its limbs, unfurling its veiny hands, revealing tiny bristly hairs that feel like fur to the touch, stretching out its neck in hopes of eventually meeting the sun, getting fatter and stronger with each gulp of water a new day brings. I had never noticed before. Never had the patience, nor the time. To watch something grow from nothing, to feel a glow of appreciation as each day pulls more from what seemed like dust.

The gentle tapping of my dog’s nails on the laminate floor drags me from my trance. He pads over and nudges my stomach with his nose, the damp leather at the end of his snout nuzzling into the gentle folds of my skin. My hand automatically stretches out to scratch the back of his ears and he tilts his head to greet it, leaning further into me until the full weight of his body rests against mine, the only sound in the air is the gentle scratch and a low grumble of appreciation as he squeezes his eyes shut to focus his attention on the joy of the scratch. I turn my head; a sigh rises within me as I take in a scene that is, by now, too familiar. The dark wood of the coffee table, covered in etchings and faded rings, telling a story of tenants, past. A faint brown circle where an old mug must have sat, filled with hot sweet tea, the thick, warming liquid likely a potion concocted to solve a hangover, its creator, drowning in an old fluffy dressing gown. A faded splatter of deep dark red seeps into the grooves of the wood, a glug of red wine escaped and forgotten from the glass of someone with bleary eyes, warmth radiating from within with each sip. A crack, climbing from the corner of the wood, eating away in a jagged line toward the leg of the table, a playfight gone wrong, the opponent with knotted brows, vigorously rubbing a crimson calf, throbbing from a battle lost. The sofas sprawl out around it, pointing inward as if in the midst of deep conversation, their cushions sagging, muddy-coloured and comforting. 4 months ago I had never seen this room in my life, now I could blindfold myself and detail every inch of it, each square foot etched into my memory, each bit of furniture, a firm fixture and a familiar face. A sanctuary.

Before I was contained, I was lost. My mind frantic, unfocused, uncaring. If I wasn’t constantly moving, anxiety would consume me, I felt the rise, quick heartbeat, shallow breaths that escaped one after the other, butterflies fighting their way out of my stomach, hands trembling, panic rising, heat rising, sweat beads, eyes shut, head pounds, count. 1, 2, 3... Trapped by the need to stay busy. Ironic that now I am trapped I am free. My mind began to heal, I slowed down, I did things that calmed me, I let my thoughts distract me, I watched the plants grow, I wrote. I breathed. My mind settled. And from the dust of my settled mind burst creativity, burst hope, burst life. I watched it, allowed it to grow, to meet the sun. I settle into the sofa, its cushions collapsing to cocoon me. I breathe.  

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Shortlisted for Canary Wharf's Short Story Writing Competition. Judged by Time Out’s Deputy Editor Chris Waywell and organised by Canary Wharf Arts + Events.

Amber Dacres

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