Amanda, sitting in the warm café, gripped her piping hot mug of coffee in both hands and stared moodily out of the window. The rain hammered down outside. Yet, her office was just across the road from the café and, really, she did like rain. Often she found rain akin to her mood, particularly rain like this – relentless, fearless rain. Rain that fell ever more heavily. Rain that tore through the clouds. Rain made her feel alive! Yes, she did not mind the rain at all.
Sitting there, she began her favourite pastime, people watching.
Everyone going about their daily business made her forget her own growing feeling of discontentment. She imagined lives for the passers-by. Lives infinitely more interesting that her own.
She heaved a huge sigh. The feeling that she was dreaming her life away and living vicariously through others crashed down upon her. She wrinkled her nose and placed her head in her hands.
Nothing ever changed.
She wanted so much for adventure and excitement to break up the monotony of the everyday. As a child, she had read about fantasy worlds and dragons and princesses locked in castles. Now, at 39, she felt her time for any excitement had passed. Her life was strictly average. Of no interest to anyone, least of all herself.
As she gave in to the wave of loneliness and downright boredom, a figure, running through the rain, caught her eye. It was a woman, small and slight, fragile looking. Yet she was happy too, smiling in spite of the almost torrential rain. She gave a beggar some food and covered him with her own jacket. She entered the café and ordered a hot chocolate at the counter.
Amanda felt instantly uncomfortable. This young woman brought with her a bright, bubbling energy which Amanda did not wish to get caught up in. As the woman picked up her hot chocolate and began scanning the busy café for an empty seat, Amanda had an overwhelming desire to get away from her. She vacated the seat speedily and Daisy (she looked, to Amanda, like she should be called Daisy) immediately headed over to it.
“Thank you so much” Daisy smiled, Amanda just frowned and moved away. She realised that the cheerful stranger had mistaken her discomfort for genuine kindness. This produced an odd effect on Amanda’s stomach; her gut twisted. When had she forgotten to be kind or considerate to others? It had been coming on so gradually she hardly knew. It made her feel immensely sad. Then, inevitably, after her sadness came her usual envy. Why did this girl seem so much happier than her? What had Daisy got in her life that Amanda did not or could not have? She knew that there was nothing to be gained from these thoughts but Amanda still felt, as always, hard done by.
She wandered slowly through the rain towards her office door. It soaked her through and through, yet it was a bizarre comfort to her. Amanda, who felt isolated from the world in general, definitely preferred rain to sun. Daisy was clearly a sunshine girl, Amanda thought bitterly, that was why she had inadvertently named her after a flower.
Sitting at her desk, Amanda found her thoughts lingering on Daisy, the kind young woman who she had met that morning. She wondered how it would feel to be so carefree. Perhaps the young woman was naïve and stupid. Clearly her life had no trials. Amanda pictured Daisy as being a complete stranger to heartbreak. Once more, she was hit by a strong wave of self-pity, feeling as if she was always the victim of bad luck. So, that day, the more Amanda tried hard to focus on her job the more she failed miserably.
Amanda finished late that day, feeling even grumpier than she had done that morning. She liked to leave the office at this time because, outside of work, she had less purpose and was therefore more prone to dark thoughts.
As Amanda was picking her way through the puddles littering the pavement, head bent down against the wind, she narrowly missed crashing headlong into another woman doing the same thing. The young woman apologised for not looking where she was going and, glancing upwards, offered a half smile. Amanda realised with a jolt that this stranger was Daisy. As she had done earlier, Amanda frowned at her and hurried on by without a word. Common courtesy should have induced her to speak. Amanda felt her own rudeness acutely. However, she could not bring herself to act more politely. Daisy disturbed her. Her smiles and genuine kindness made Amanda feel worse about herself. Strangely, the young woman seemed to fascinate her though. Amanda had thought about Daisy almost all day, sacrificing her own work to her new obsession. She found it difficult to believe that anyone could be so unaffected, so happy with life, happy in themselves. It made her envious.
She sat at the bus stop at the end of the road and stared back at Daisy, now disappearing around the corner. Looking at the bright, positive, young woman made Amanda feel slightly ill yet she couldn’t help staring. She felt mesmerised by Daisy (or whatever she was really called). Daisy with the perfect life.
The next morning, as Amanda was getting off the bus near work, she spotted a lone figure, her coat pulled close against the cold, walking past the bus stop. She knew instantly that this person was Daisy. Automatically, almost unconsciously, Amanda picked up her bag and wandered along the road slowly behind her. She had a sudden desire to find out where the young woman was going. Amanda knew in the back of her mind that this impulsive adventure may make her late for work, but she did not care.
The street was quite busy, which was to be expected on a Tuesday morning, all the commuters dashing around towards their individual places of work. Amanda could see Daisy’s green satchel hanging off one shoulder and that was what she followed. She was not sure what she hoped to gain from following Daisy and felt rather stalker-ish in doing so. However, she felt that she did not really have much power over her feet any longer, it was a strong compulsion.
Then, abruptly, Daisy stopped outside a large brick building that Amanda had never noticed before. The sign outside read that the support session started at 9am. Amanda continued to watch with curiosity, as Daisy pushed the door and disappeared inside. OK so the young woman went to a support group, big deal, so did many people, Amanda thought as she debated walking back to her office. For some reason though, she felt rooted to the spot. Having seen that Daisy went to a support group, Amanda was now keen to find out why. What harm could it do if she decided to sit in on Daisy’s group – who would know? This over-interest in another person’s life was certainly unhealthy, but Amanda justified it to herself as just a little curiosity. She bit her lip nervously. Amanda knew that if she wanted to do this it would be of paramount importance to stay silent. She could not let anyone in the group realise she was a fraud.
Amanda dithered for a couple of minutes before she took a deep breath and hurried across the road to the door. She had to know what was going on inside that building. On entering the large side room Amanda slid into the nearest vacant seat right next to the door. She wanted to sit somewhere where she could be inconspicuous.
The group were politely listening to an older man, with scraggly grey hair, rambling on about something. Amanda caught none of it. She was preoccupied scanning the faces of the others in the group in search of Daisy.
Amanda was vaguely aware that the old man had finished wittering on when the support group leader spoke, cutting across her dishevelled thought process,
“Now, Emily, how has it been for you this week?”
The support leader’s voice was soft and full of sympathy as she turned to a young woman across the circle from her who had her head bent down and was picking at a thread on her skirt. The young woman looked up with tears in her eyes. Amanda frowned and looked away feeling deeply ashamed of herself. The young woman was, unmistakeably, Daisy. Amanda shuffled slightly, sinking lower in her chair in a bid not to be seen. She need not have worried, for Daisy did not seem to notice anyone, except for the support worker to whom all of her answer was addressed. She began, unsteadily,
“I think about her all the time. I barely sleep. I still feel really sad and sometimes angry as well. It seems so unfair – why was she was taken from this world so young? You know, when we were growing up she always protected me… from everything – our rowing parents, my good-for-nothing friends. She was my angel in the darkness. She had the purest heart in the world. My saviour really…”
At this point Daisy broke off, tears overwhelming her. She shook violently. The support group leader came across quickly and embraced her, wiping her cheeks tenderly. Others within the group made their way over to surround Daisy so that she disappeared into a sea of hugs and affection.
Amanda sat in stunned silence. She was moved to the core. She realised that she should have known that no one would go to a support group for fun. Daisy was clearly a very broken woman. Amanda hated herself and felt the full force of her own mistaken judgement. Her own thoughts came back to haunt her – Daisy, Daisy with the perfect life.
“… I tried to be like her, my kind loving supportive sister” Daisy was saying as Amanda tuned back in, “I helped out the homeless, I smiled at as many people as I could every day. I felt like if I acted as she does. Did. Acted as she did, then it was almost like bringing her back… through me…” she sniffed and nearly broke down again.
Rallying herself, Daisy continued, “I try to live my life in a good happy way, but whatever I do I can’t bring her back. It has been nearly 7 years now. The pain is still there burning inside me. People say time is a good healer but it doesn’t feel like that for me.”
Amanda could not believe her ears. Each word spoken cut through her like a knife. When Daisy was finished her eyes locked on Amanda’s as she realised, for the first time, that she had been sitting there. Both women coloured from embarrassment. Amanda felt so out of place and insensitive – she was disgusted with herself. Daisy was shocked to see her there. She had no idea that this woman she had bumped into twice yesterday, this glamorous woman, who appeared to have a sophisticated office job, was actually suffering the loss of somebody who was close to her too. No wonder the smartly dressed woman had seemed so cold and grumpy when Daisy had met her yesterday.
Daisy gave Amanda a sympathetic smile filled with warmth. Amanda returned it whilst feeling the full strength of the guilt that surged through her veins. Daisy was completely unaware of this and felt only gratitude that her well-meaning smile was returned.
Amanda snuck out of the room a short while later. On exiting the building, the cold wind nearly knocked her off of her feet. It pleased her in a weird way. She felt as if it was reinforcing the wake-up call that she had just received.
4 thoughts on “She looked like a Daisy”
interesting post. followed your site because it peaked my interest. Thank you.
I am glad you enjoyed it and my writing is of interest to you 🙂
Thank you for following my site – watch this space for more posts coming in the next few weeks
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I will do that.
Hello Crystal. I am so sorry that I have not written and published any posts on this blog for ages – Please watch this space as I intend to get back into my writing over the next month or so… I do hope I have not lost your following due to my own neglect of this blog