Carolann Copland, founder and director of Carousel Creates, is a great friend and writing mentor. She published her first novel ‘Summer Triangle’ in October this year and it’s a great read. When she isn’t teaching in a primary school children, she is teaching writing courses to adults and children, as well as running writing workshops at the writers’ centre in the Dublin mountains.
Midnight Mass by Carolann Copland
More snow fell. I could see her through my window sitting at the bus stop. The single deckers had come and gone, yet she was still there and now the buses had stopped for the night. She was wrapped in a blue shawl that shimmered in the light from the street lamp. I watched her lift her Lidl bag up onto her lap and hug it close to her. I felt drawn to her but stayed where I was, staring at the woman child. She leaned her head forward and rested it on her bag.
Our Christmas tree lights flashed from the corner of the room. Leaning to turn them off, I stopped after pulling the first plug. That would be too final. It would mean it was time to switch out all the lights and go to bed and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep. When I closed my eyes I would see her. On her bench. Freezing. Staring at the bag. Santa’s presents littered the room. He had stuffed the stockings to bursting point and eaten his cake and drunk his whiskey and gone off to eat and drink in other houses the length and breadth of the world. Imagine. I had more cake and I found myself wondering whether she’d like a piece. Would it remind her maybe of where she was supposed to be?
I couldn’t hear her from where I was but when she sat up straight suddenly, I could see from her face that she was in pain. I ran outside; the cold gripping. Each crunch of the fresh snow filled me with dread. I could hear her wails now and standing at the kerb waiting for a car to pass I could see the scarlet pool at her feet, seeping into the snow. I thought of my mobile and turned, unsure. Maybe I should try to bring her home before calling for help.
When I reached her she pulled the baby blanket around her and her crying stopped suddenly.
‘Go ’way.’ Her voice was hoarse.
‘I will,’ I said. ‘Soon. But would you come into the house and rest for a while first?’
She shook her head fiercely and pulled the bag closer to her.
‘Where’s your baby, love? Is it at home?’ I wanted to get her moving. I reached over and held her hand. No gloves. She was ice.
‘I forgot to leave the bag,’ she cried. ‘He has no clothes or nappies or anything now.’ More drops of blood fell on the snow and the girl cried with the pain again.
I tried once more. ‘We’ll bring your bag to the baby. You’re right. He’ll need all his things. What’s your name pet?’
‘Maria,’ she sniffed. ‘Is it midnight yet?’
‘No’ I said. ‘A half an hour to go.’ I put my arm under hers and pulled her to standing.
‘I left him with the baby Jesus,’ she said. ‘They’ll find him at midnight mass.’
Find out more about Carolann’s writing and teaching
on the Carousel Creates website
or follow her on Twitter @carouselcreates