Fiction Christian Inspirational

It was September 1989. I was drowning in my huge new school uniform. I know a lot of parents buy a few sizes up to save money but is a sack appropriate for a first day at school? I exaggerate slightly. I was wearing my XL Navy Blazer with the school crest ‘Veritas’ embroidered on top of my non-existent right breast. My Navy V-neck jumper hung past my waist and my ridiculously long navy skirt was a tripping hazard. I remember standing for assembly in the main hall next to a girl called Denise. She had latched on to me right away, but she seemed nice enough. We looked at each other as if to say, 'What were our parents thinking sending us here?'


‘Good morning, ladies’ began Mr. Murphy, the ruddy-faced headmaster. When I filed into the hall, I heard a brief snippet of conversation between two of the older girls.

‘Have you been in his study? There is a cabinet FULL of whiskey.’

‘No, I haven’t been in his study Jemima. You have because you keep talking over the teacher in class.’



Mr. Murphy continued. ‘I do hope everyone has had a good weekend. I’m going to start by telling you all a story about a fellow who finds himself in a desperate situation and in need of help. The story is called ‘The drowning man’.

I think I heard the Jemima girl say ‘sounds like a laugh’ to which a few of her classmates giggled.


A look from Mr. Murphy silenced the sniggering and he began.


‘A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”

The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God, and he is going to save me.”

So, the rowboat went on.

Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”

To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God, and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So, the motorboat went on.

Then a helicopter came by, and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”

To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God, and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So, the helicopter reluctantly flew away.

Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you, but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”

To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”


A few of the teachers smiled and Mr. Murphy continued.

‘a truly valuable story girls about accepting help. I’m sure we can all learn to accept help from time to time. My wife, Mrs. Murphy is always telling me to let go and accept help. It’s sometimes the hardest thing to do. I would like to welcome everyone who has joined us this school year and please don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends, fellow classmates, and teachers. We are all here to support one another.’


After assembly, we filed into our classroom and focused on our studies. But that was all I had to think about back then: Acing my exams and staying in the top five in my year in each subject so my parents could brag to their friends about it and feel that all the money they had spent on my private school education had been worth it.




Every day during our lunch break my husband John and I walk down the road to the beach that runs along the rugged North Cornish coast. How I love this stretch of coast. Full of wonderful memories of running up and down the beach with our young son, throwing or kicking a ball back and forth. A stretch of coast that has so much hope associated with it. ‘One day when we have a dog, we can run up and down with our doggy and train him/her to fetch the ball.’ or ‘ooh mummy can we come back in the summer months and swim in the rock pools.’ ‘Of course, darling, that sounds wonderful.’


But it is now winter and on exceptionally windy days, we feel the force of nature pushing us back, telling us ‘You don’t want to come too close today’ but we always push past it and find a sheltered cove to explore and enjoy being battered by the wind.

However, in recent weeks, I haven’t felt so strong. What would happen if I just let go. Would I end up being blown about and spat back on to the beach like the bits of debris I find after a rough storm?


Sunday night mood: Calm (rippled), Wind: Light air


It is Sunday night and as I must get up early to travel the long journey from North Cornwall to London the next morning I say to my husband ‘I’ll sleep in the spare room, so I don’t disturb you my darling’.

My alarm is due to go off at 5am.

I have an engrained anxiety about Sunday nights which I know a lot of people have. I forever feel that ‘back to school’ ache where I feel overwhelmed at what the week has in store for me. What others have in store for me. I read my book, Joan Collins latest autobiography for a bit of humour and sensible reason but find myself unable to switch off. I turn off my bedside lamp and then think I can hear my son coughing. Oh no, I hope he’s not coming down with the latest bug from school. I then fall asleep but then roll over and check my phone and I’ve only been in bed for an hour. I go back to sleep and then what feels like only an hour later, I hear movement in Ben’s room. He runs into our room and when he doesn’t find me there, comes bolting into the spare room. ‘Are you ok Benji?’


‘Yes, mummy but my throat hurts.’ 


‘Ok you go back to bed. I’ll get you some milk, water and calpol’ and then I head downstairs, notice by the kitchen clock it’s 3am, look out at the garden thinking have I even slept? And then head up to Ben.

‘You go back to sleep now darling. Mummy needs to get up soon, so I need to sleep.’

‘Ok mummy will you get me a toy in London?’

‘Yes, darling I’ll get you anything if you go to sleep now.’

I then head back to the spare room and attempt to sleep, conscious that the remaining hours are passing at the speed of sound and my 5am alarm is about to go off any moment.


Oh, there we go. I have this down to a fine art. I throw on my underwear, my navy jumpsuit and pashmina, check I’ve packed my toothbrush and have phone, debit card and train tickets. I make a quick cup of tea and grab a fruit scone and as quietly as I can lock up the house when I leave and walk the 10 minutes to the bus stop feeling slightly concerned that I didn’t call a cab or take that offer of a lift from my husband and dad when it’s pitch dark and I’m a woman on my own. I feel slight relief when I arrive at the bus stop and see several people waiting, mostly young people who look like students heading to college in the next town. Once the bus arrives, I get out my book and read a bit in between dozing. Once at the train station, I check there are no delays and then settle down for a Starbucks cappuccino and a bacon roll. Before I jump on the train to London, I grab another cappuccino as the coffee on the train in the trolley service is usually rank.

Once on the train I can settle in and do a few things. Read/ write. It is my time but I do spend a lot of the time wishing I was at home so I could take Benj to school and I hope his cold is ok. 

I arrive at London Paddington station on time and have done this journey often enough that I know to get my head down, head to the Hammersmith and city line and jump on the tube for 20 minutes to King’s Cross. There is something exciting about being surrounded by so many people and I usually forget where I am and start chatting to total strangers on the tube. My husband who grew up in London always says, ‘don’t make eye contact with anyone on the tube and definitely don’t speak to anyone’. He worries. I guess that’s normal. He’s always telling me that ‘me and Benj are everything’. 

When I arrive at my premier inn hotel next to my office, I pay for an early check in. Once in my room, I ring John:

‘Hey darling how are you?’

‘Hello. How was your journey?’

‘It was fine. I’m going to have a quick shower and then head to the office. I’ll call later.’

‘Ok speak later.’

I then have a quick wash, apply more foundation than I normally would, eye liner and a subtle lipstick, oh and brush my hair. There is something about heading into the office that makes me feel young and nice to have an occasion to look smart. At the same time, I feel as if I’m about to put on a show, so I practice my work voice as I walk up the three flights of stairs to my colleagues.


‘Helen, hey!’

‘Hey there Richard, how are you?’ Best to start with the Head of the department.

Richard is a lovely guy. He is Australian and looks like he’s enjoyed a fight in his rugby club many years ago. He has that slightly battered look but still has a twinkle in his eye. He enjoys telling me how his children are doing now they’ve flown the nest.

‘The thing is Helen I feel as if my wife and I are having a second life. Our kids have flown and we’re now able to go out for dinner and see plays. It’s great.’

‘That’s wonderful’

‘And how are you? How’s the family?’

‘Oh yes you know all fine. Husband and son always have a breakdown when I’m not there but all fine.’

‘Oh good. Now I was going to speak to you about work if ok?’

‘Oh yes of course.’

‘I’m conscious you do a lot.’

‘Yes, it keeps me out of mischief.’

‘Ha. Well, I wanted to say thank you so much for doing the department newsletter and helping with training sessions on top of your regular work. I would like to reorganize our intranet and I’m keen to bring everyone together. If I set up a chat with the other department heads, would you be keen to get involved with that?’

‘Yes definitely’

‘Great. Well, it’s great to see you. I’ll let you get on.’

As I returned to my desk, I could hear my husband’s voice ‘they do know you’re part- time don’t they? Just refuse to do all this extra stuff. They’re not compensating you for it and you want to do other things with your time like writing.’

I sat down at my desk trying not to feel disgruntled. I phoned my manager in New York who is an absolute peach and looks like she walked off the set of 90210. ‘We can tweak it Helen so you’re not doing more while Richard needs you. I don’t want you working more than your contractual hours.’

‘Thanks Samantha.’

And with that I wade through the treacle-like pile on my to do list.


Wednesday afternoon mood: Slight to moderate, Moderate breeze


I’m back in the car driving the 18 miles to Ben’s school. When we moved over the borders from Devon to Cornwall a couple of years ago, he was so settled at school that we didn’t want to move him and as I am only ‘part- time’ I pick up most of the runs. I call my mum on the drive over.

‘Hello, its only me’

‘Oh, hello darling. How are you?’

‘Oh yes fine thanks’ trying to hide the creeping veil of tiredness that wants to take over.

‘How’s our gorgeous boy.’

‘John’s fine thanks.’

‘Ha, the other gorgeous boy.’

'Oh, you mean Ben. Ha! He’s fine. I’m just driving over to watch him thrash Kingsley school. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it but decided to run away from work.’

‘Is there anything we can do to help? Do you need to work? You know your sister would always help with the school runs.’

‘No, I’m fine thanks. I don’t need to work but I enjoy it and yes, it’s a bit manic now, but I just need to pace myself.’

‘Well, I won’t keep you. Hope hockey goes well and Benji bunny enjoys.’

‘Thanks, I’m sure he will. He loves anything with a ball.’

I was so pleased to have escaped from work and watching Ben do well on the sidelines was so invigorating. This is the stuff he’ll remember.

‘I didn’t think you’d make it’ said one of the mums. You know, Rob said to me the other day, we’ll happily take Ben to school. He gets on so well with our Ella and he’s such a poppet.’

‘Oh, that’s so kind thank you. I don’t mind. Gets me out of the house.’ Although Helen thought to herself that a lie in occasionally would be amazing or a bit more time back.


Wednesday night mood: Violent Storm/Hurricane


After putting Benj to bed, I thought I better log on to my emails to check nothing had come up. Big mistake. Meeting requests to discuss new project. Check in on where current department newsletter was. Clients applying red exclamations left/right and centre to emails. The word 'disappointing' in a couple of emails. Urgh. So, I text my friend Zoe. I had met Zoe at prenatal classes when I had Benj and we had formed a strong bond. She saw a bullshitter a mile off. She had also had every single job under the sun which fascinated me: make-up artist/candle maker/ singer/PA/ marketing professional and despite running her entire household/managing her husband's tailoring business, she had also secured herself a book deal for a Children’s Picture book. I sent her a WhatsApp:

‘Hey gorgeous, how are you?’

‘Hey lovely, how are you? All fine here, just trying to shirk my day job so I can write my next book.’

‘Amazing, you are an inspiration.’

‘Aww thanks, you are too. What's up?’

‘I feel completely snowed under.’

‘oh, I’m sorry. Do you know what though?’


‘Now is the time. Carpe diem.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘You and I have been talking about this for yonks. Carve out more YOU TIME. Prioritise YOU. Start tapping again.’

‘you’re right. I feel completely lost as to where to start.’

‘a friend of mine recommended said she started using daily writing prompts to get her in the mood for her poems. She sets her alarm 15 mins early to have a go. Do it!’

‘Ok I will. Speak soon. Thank you, lots of love.’

‘Lots of love. Just remember the laundry will always be there but it doesn’t have to be your soul purpose.’

‘you’re so right. Thanks again.’


With that I typed in writing prompts…what is this? Reedsy writing prompts…

March 03, 2024 15:21

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Jennifer Luckett
20:07 Mar 27, 2024

Loved it-great flow, so relatable and a really clever ending.


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Kailani B.
17:38 Mar 10, 2024

Some good messages in here, especially the part about asking for help. Thanks for sharing!


Rebecca Detti
13:53 Mar 11, 2024

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. Asking for help is a topic that comes up all the time in our household so I was pleased to incorporate it into this story. Thanks again


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Kathleen Spencer
16:29 Mar 10, 2024

There is a easy kind of crazy flow to your writing in this story, that I very much enjoyed. Well written and satisfying to read. Well done.


Rebecca Detti
15:28 Mar 19, 2024

Thanks so much Kathleen, I really appreciate you reading and your comments! Glad you enjoyed and look forward to your stories


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Tom Skye
14:23 Mar 10, 2024

Nice capturing of the whirlwind of life. With a quirky ending 😂 This was a great read. It is amazing how we learn to move through disparate parts of our lives as if there is a sane structure to it all. Makes you realize how little we put enough energy into one thing. Really enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing


Rebecca Detti
15:29 Mar 19, 2024

Thanks so much Tom, ‘spreading yourself too thin’ seems to be a common occurrence! Thank you for reading and your kind comments, much appreciated! Look forward to reading your stories!


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Trudy Jas
01:11 Mar 06, 2024

LOL. It's proba bly pretty much how everybody got here. I have to disagree with Mary, there is such a thing as part time, but not if you a) cannot say no, and 2) (or b) Are full-time committed - either to the job or some out of the way institution. :-) Great story


Rebecca Detti
13:56 Mar 06, 2024

Ha! Sorry for the cheesy ending!I know I keep trying to say no! :-) thanks for reading and for your kind comments. Look forward to reading your latest story shortly xx


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Mary Bendickson
04:45 Mar 04, 2024

I remember hearing that story of drowning man somewhere before. Nosuch thing as 'part-time in life of mother😄


Rebecca Detti
19:54 Mar 04, 2024

I know I've heard it a few times over the years but it really resonated with me as a teenager. Yes what is part-time? :-) hope you're well!


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Alexis Araneta
18:10 Mar 03, 2024

Lovely job, Rebecca ! It's another heartwarming tale from you. Great flow, as usual.


Rebecca Detti
19:57 Mar 04, 2024

thanks so much for taking the time to read and for your kind words Stella


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