She sat on the edge of a cot, a small child across her lap, his body heaving. His breathing rasps through his windpipe. While her hands perform mechanical functions, the left cradling, and the right hand stroking, Rose’s eyes stared without seeing. Her mind was back in time thinking about the fight she had the last time she saw Bill. Even now, she could not make sense of it. It was over some trivial thing; where to hang the towel rail of all things. They were in love—so why had he up and left her, and disappeared without trace?
Her own deep breathing is heard over Ben’s as he fell asleep on her lap and she visualised herself in a paddock covered in Western Australian wildflowers with a blue sky overhead. Breathe in, breaths out—then relax. She willed herself to be strong in the face of yet another person she loved having deserted their family.
She stood with her sister’s son clutched in her arms, recalling the time, seventeen years before, when she’d comforted her two-year-old son, Carl, while her right arm clutched baby Helen to her breast. If she managed then, she’d cope now.
She cast her mind beyond the walls and visualised herself bent over the typewriter pouring out the thorns of her life into print. She’d write her feelings down. Turning those trials into print. Turning her ongoing search for her missing husband, and now her sister, into the blog that was the meagre income they survived on.
Freelance writing, for Rose, meant working fifteen hours a day. At least she could pack up the tools of her trade if she found a comment on her missing person's blog that appeared worth following up. Donations helped. It wasn’t always the relatives of missing teenagers who felt like paying her when she found and returned their hormone hostage affected teenager home. She also drew an income from well-wishers who had followed Rose’s story. These donors helped to minimise the quantity of paid advertising Rose added into the blog posts.
She allowed for one paid advertisement between two non-sponsored blog posts. That was the level of commercialism that sat comfortably with Rose’s ethics and her own teenager’s demands for those extras she tried to give them. Or, tried too hard to provide them with, as overcompensating for the family life they had missed out on, the love-filled family life with Bill that she’s missed, had her always seeking to give more than necessary to those she loved.
Rose lowered her sister’s grieving child to the cot. Stooping, she rubbed Ben’s heaving back as she’d once rubbed Carl’s.
The last time she’d been the support for a grieving toddler she had also been the sole caregiver for her and Bill’s newborn. This time has to be easier. Hot acid reflux hit her throat as she straightened. She swallowed and focused on her breathing.
Breathing exercises she’s learned in preparation for Helena’s birth had gotten her through the grief of Bill leaving them, and it would get her through this—that and her work. Workaholism was pain numbing.
Breath in, breath out, and relax. In a steady, conscious effort to stay calm Rose visualised paddocks of Western Australian wildflowers and blue sky and forced herself to block out images of Dan from her mind. Once she’d fought not to go insane with the grief of his deserting her.
She eased the pain of lost love with a wall of hate that he’d left most brutally, without a goodbye, at a time when she most needed him. Breath in, breath out—and relax.
Silent tears flowed as Rose recalled how she'd rubbed Carl’s heaving back, as he cried for his missing Daddy, and she’d made this breathing in and out and releasing her muscles a habit so that she could let down milk to their baby Helena.
An opaque white bubble moved back and forth at the base of Ben’s pink nostril. Rose stretched out and grabbed a tissue from the box on the bed table, blotted his cheeks. Breath. She dabbed at the spittle around Ben’s mouth and then expertly lifted away from the thick cream boogie on the end of Ben’s nose without waking him. I’ve done that before. It all comes back.
Squaring her shoulders, she rose, thinking about the mortgage payment. She was getting behind, due to time away from the blog to care for Ben. Back to work.
* * *
Carl had no comprehension of what she and Helen had given up so he could have his fortnight’s holiday in Queensland with his friends as his high school graduation present. She’d promised it to him if he had stayed on at school to complete the final year.
Carl’s older sister, Helen, had taken on a babysitting job and she and Roseanne had both saved so he could go. Raising teenagers was financially draining. Rose had been debating letting the house go. Only then—what?
Ben moaned and slobbered on the yellow teddy ear’s ear. His eyelid fluttered.
Rose lifted up the cot side and locked it, then tiptoed out, closing the door. Glanced longingly up the hall toward her bedroom, she went to the kitchen, made herself coffee, and sat it beside the computer. Back to work. You can do this.
* * *
The computer screen glowed brightly in an instant when Rose leaned over the well-worn office chair and touched the keyboard. She blinked—too much brightness for tired eyes. She dimmed the computer screen and then sunk appreciatively into the chair’s comfortable supporting seat and backrest. Her feet searched for and found the bean bag under the desk.
The tiredness had gone, the coffee forgotten, she needed to write. Rose couldn’t have slept with all that was in her head bursting to escape. The blog was her comfort, and she poured out all that grieved her—of now and of the past.
Once again, I’ve succeeded in not ending up a total emotional wreck. I did it for our children. I had no way of knowing when their father would come home or where he was. He never did come back. I left it to the police to find him, initially. Then at some stage, I’m not sure when, the blur of grief and wanting to wake up and know that it never happened changed to writing this blog, sharing my search for Bill with you my readers. This is now a search for Ben’s mother, my sister. What is it with my family? Tell me this isn’t normal? People don’t leave their loved ones and disappear without a trace—do they?
Rose had thought of what she’d write on her blog as she’d sat on the side of Ben’s cot rocking him. She couldn’t leave him to cry alone. Those readers who commented in her blog were her friends, and she needed to talk to someone. Late into the night as Ben and her teenagers slept, Rose typed between sips of coffee. She’d never slept until she’d released her thoughts.
Ben was fretful today, throwing tantrums. His mum, my sister disappeared a few months ago. An emerging tooth kept us both awake last night until 5 am. Do you have any tips that can help at times such as these?
Seeing the sky lighten toward’s the down, Rose was concerned about going to bed that late, as she might not be able to wake up fully to drive to the airport in peak-hour traffic in a few hours time. Sometimes I’m more alert if I just keep going. I’ll drink coffee, get the kids to their appointments early and come home and crash—sleep all day-if only Ben will nap with me. I need sleep.
She opened the comments section of her Blogger Muse. The blog earned bread and butter money and allowed Rose to be a full-time writer and sole-supporting mum. In that blog, she poured out a mix of frustrations. It was a functional website with a following of thousands of regular readers who contribute through comments and purchased enough from the affiliates, whose products she show in the sidebar, for that blog to support Rose’s family.
It wasn’t her waffled tired thoughts that produced the income, although she got comments of support from other tired mums, and writers who could relate.
Rose’s blog offered solutions to problem issues. It was not only about how she’d found solutions to some of her own issues and the resolve to find a way to raise her children while doing what she loved—writing, her blog expressed the resilience of human nature. It was about striving to keep life in balance where there is no happily ever after, or HEA as romance writers call that.
What is balance? Certainly not an ideal anything, or stable existence, we’re dealing with humans here, family and work at that.
Prior to blogging, Rose wrote novels that she sold to a publisher who demanded that she wrote a romantic HEA and paid her one-off payments that supported her for one month. Those novels took Rose three months to complete with all the editing alterations the publisher demanded.
At times, even someone as confident as Rose couldn’t muster a HEA story. She’d experienced writer's block. She came to an agreement with the publishers that she could not write another HEA novel until she found out what had happened her missing husband. They talked he in to giving HFN, as in ‘happy for now’, a go, stipulating that in needed to be filled with spiced it up, hot sex.
“Ero-romance,” they said. “Contemporary women want romance written with the bedroom door open for the reader to see what’s going on inside or they feel cheated.”
The writer's block lingered for as long as Rose tried to write about a life she couldn't envisage for herself.
There wasn’t any erotic romance going on in Rose’s life. She was sure she’d not be the only woman who struggled to write romance fiction when her experience was less than romantic.
So, Rose took to blog writing. Readers might be able to suspend truth into fantasy, but most writers are motivated to write from experience, and Rose had experienced sudden loss. Hence her blog took the form of personal therapy, counselling, support, and advice.
Rose had struck a hot niche of reader demand and became HFN supporting her family being real, writing true to herself for women who preferred to face their troubles share on and deal with them, rather than turn to escapist fiction with their impossibly beautiful heroines and a fake alpha male to save them.
Rose had previously asked readers to voluntarily send her their email addresses as she'd compiled an ebook filled with information gathered from readers comments and her experience that she would send to them with their monthly newsletter.
As Rose wrote, readers were responding to her last newsletter and her generosity in sending out a free ebook filled with useful information to make any mother’s life a little easier. If they found that ebook helped them, Rose had asked if they would consider making a small donation by Papal to allow her to continue writing Blogger's Muse and its missing people tracing programs.
Rose opened her email and gasped.
The PayPal notices of $5. monthly recurring payments filed two and a half pages. More than enough to meet each month’s mortgage payments and to hire a babysitter to watch over Ben for a couple of hours of free time each day, which would initially be used to catch up on some much-needed sleep.
In writing for women who’d decided to save themselves, rather than fret while they waited for that impossible HEA and the romance novel’s alpha male to take care of them, Rose had rescued herself and her precious family.
Hey it's me, Ryn.
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