I’m not going to lie to you, I was terrified. My heart beat inside my chest so loudly that it felt like it may burst out in a fury, tearing my breast, leaving me helpless. I tried to compose myself, knowing it was not good to show fear. But damnit; as I attempted to compose myself a bead of sweat trickled down from my brow, edged over my eyebrow, and dripped from my chin to the floor.
Using my foot as a brush I swept the evidence away and started to face my fear.
Inhaling deeply, I called to the children. I was aiming to speak in a soothing, nonchalant tone, but instead my voice came out hard and raspy. I ordered BB to leave the buggy – I couldn’t risk it and leave her in it. She won’t wear the straps and the added weight would have caused more problems than I could cope with.
The twins were starting to act nervous, they must have been sensing my ill concealed terror. As I barked instructions they jumped into action, allowing a bit of pride to cut through my horror.
Clutching the children to me, I promised them it would be ok, if we stuck together and did what I asked, we would come through this alive.
Biting down on my lip I stepped forward, the buggy I yanked behind me. Every bag we owned sat precariously upon it. One bag full of diabetic essentials, a bag of snacks, a bag of toys, a handbag of BB’s, plus four shopping bags. The buggy was groaning under the strain, and it looked like a carrier bag version of Jenga.
I looked at the children.
“Now,” I said to twin boy, “go now”
He stepped bravely forward and I watched as he was carried by a mechanical monster, away from my arms, and suddenly down and out of sight.
He was on his own now.
“Go,” I said to twin girl, “watch her, hold her tightly.” My eyes filled with tears as I watched my eldest take my youngest by the hand and away they stepped, sliding forward, then bodies still they were lowered artificially out of sight.
Eagerness to be near my children overtook my fear and I lurched forward, dragging the buggy, almost stumbling in my haste. A chap in a suit tried to step in front of me, but my motherly growl stopped him in his tracks. No one was going to come between me and my babies.
I struck out a foot, balancing the buggy on one arm, watching the bags jolt with the motion. My toes rested on metal, moving metal, and fought to keep myself steady as the buggy bore down on my arm. I went down, following the route my children had stepped before me, the chap in the suit fading out of sight.
As I stood, precariously, buggy on arm, fingers wrapped around three carrier bags, the handles cutting into my fingers, I saw the children, waiting at the bottom, waving me on, shouting they were ok, they had survived.
A wave of sheer relief washed over me, and relaxation seeped into my bones. But then, as my confidence grew, my balance wobbled and the buggy wheels started to spin. It tipped slightly and a loose apple tipped from an open bag and started to fall. I reached for it but it slipped from my grasp. The jerk of my arm caused my whole core stability to become unstable and I saw my children’s eyes widen as they watched me lurch from side to side, desperately trying to stay on my feet, to not become dinner for the mechanical monster.
Then I was there, with a final wrench I pulled the buggy clear of the mechanical teeth. My children leapt on to me, laughing and shouting with unrestrained glee.
We were together again, we had made it. We were jubilant.
Walking away, a child in each hand and one back in the buggy I threw a glance back to the machine that threatened to split us and I laughed in its empty silver face.
Then Twin boy looked at me and said, “Mummy do we have to try and go up the escalator when we get off the tube?”
Shit! I forgot we had to repeat that horror on the other side.
It was a subdued journey to Oxford Street.
Can someone please give some money to the Underground to put in more bloody lifts.