The Cure for Sleep: Hands
Season 2, 002: Share a story of what you have made, mended or broken with yours
your invitation to write
As you read (or re-read) The Cure for Sleep, you will see in how many places and ways hands are invoked. People shake them upon extraordinary bargains in love, art, friendship. Things are made by hand that outlast the loss that prompted their creation. As a clever working-class girl ear-marked for a higher education, I was always discouraged from learning manual skills being told by family and teachers in my small rural community that ‘I wouldn’t need mine.’
This month’s extract from The Cure for Sleep is from the time in my early thirties when my husband wanted very much to start a family, and we were waiting for our infertility treatment to start. Feeling far less sure of the path we were on, I turned to the kind of handiwork I’d been discouraged from in childhood as a means of earthing myself.
This month’s invitation to write for The Cure for Sleep story archive is as follows: Tell me about your hands: something your have made, mended or broken with them.
And a suggestion for more work around this in your private creative practice: Make a touch-paper: a list of the most delicious sensations your hands have experienced. How can you bring more tactile pleasure into your days?
You can read the stories already contributed by readers over on The Cure For Sleep website: bedtime stories | memory games | bonding | choosing | promises | size & shape | time | desire | regret | faith | rebirth | play
(All themes are still open for contributions, so that subscribers with time or health limits have the opportunity to take part as and when they are able.)
the cure for sleep: april extract
Last weekend before treatment.
How I sat late evening in the red armchair beside Nye’s, begun upon a crochet blanket, new pastime by which I hoped to control myself and stay put, instead of running away fully and forever as it was now my urgent wish to do. The wool was orange like the binder twine Granny and other retired farmers used to fasten their gates and fences, and I tried to imagine myself likewise bound to my seat.
So restful, you knitting like that. What Nye said several times, even while my fingers whispered for me to throw open the front door and set feet free. But I knew what I’d see if I did: bright circle made by the last lamp on our small street – and beyond it? A dark in which I’d belong nowhere, to no one.
Old knot of fear and longing. Girl awake through so many country nights, too scared to run along lightless lanes and reach the help she needed.
How stuck I was still.
Whereas Nye, meanwhile? Intent on growth. Our tiny house filled by him with seedlings so our rooms had a new and thick greenhouse smell; every surface covered with trays and pots. His trouser pockets full of loose seed now whenever I emptied them for the washing machine. And such close attention he bent towards those plants – little, multiplying substitutes for the child that refused to take root. I offered to share their care, but he shook his head always, and continued alone. Back turned to me, our life.
Shadrick, Tanya. The Cure for Sleep (pp. 88-89). Orion. Kindle Edition.
this month’s extra
Tanya recently joined another debut author Georgina Scull on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour (their conversation with host Emma Barnett starts at 45 minutes in). They then wrote for the BBC website on their seven tips for living life more fully.