Brighton Journal of Research in Health Sciences

Supporting Research in the School of Health Sciences


Seeking Sense in Mental Health

Mission Statement

We are a group of mental health nursing students aiming to create a therapeutic network to support students and professionals in practice.

We intend to provide a forum for open discussion and debate over practical and ethical issues relating to mental health theory, practice and service delivery.

Our network is intended to be multi-disciplinary and is open to all who work, study or simply have an interest or experience in the mental health field.

We appear to be at a time of great changes in the medical profession (Beasley, 2011; Lee & Fawcett, 2012) and nursing needs to find its own professional identity to develop and embrace those changes (Beasley, 2011; Clarke, 2012; Lee & Fawcett, 2012). However there appear to be conflicts within the very role of nursing. Advocacy, considered to be fundamental to nursing practice (MacDonald, 2006), is included as an essential quality of nurses in the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code (NMC, 2008) yet policy, in the shape of mental health legislation focus on risk management (Department of Health (DH), 2005), demands that mental health nurses be complicit in the denial of liberty and enforced treatment of some of those in their care (Pilgrim, 2005; Szmuckler & Applebaum, 2001).

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the King’s Fund both suggest that nursing morale is at an all-time low (Royal College of Nursing (RCN), 2015; Independent, 2015). Seeking Sense in Mental Health (SSiMH) aims to focus on auditing morale levels of students in placement and attempt to find ways to address issues arising from workplace stress, consider questions over ethical or practical aspects of treatment and raise awareness of alternative or complementary perspectives.

SSiMH has a practical and intellectual purpose that aims to support and inform professionals, students and service users alike. One focus within the network involves bringing the process of mindfulness to our groups, encouraging participants to use the practice to benefit both their personal and working lives whilst potentially also offering positive experiences for service users, their carers and families (Beddoe and Murphy, 2004). Our interactions with clients carry myriad layers of our own mental clutter and one way of developing a ‘clutter free’ communication is to have awareness of possible countertransference. Scheick (2010) suggests that this awareness can be achieved through mindfulness.

The aim of mindfulness is to slow the rapid and stressful stream of thoughts that constantly flow through our minds. Coming to a point of acceptance that we are in the present, not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future, and stilling the mind brings great calmness and an inner peace. When we are at our most relaxed and creative, we are in alpha brain wave mode. Stress is reported to deplete the alpha wave functionality of our brains while meditative practices such as yoga, Tai Chi and mindfulness enhance it (Miller, 2011).

Psychiatric drugs are associated with a variety of unpleasant and potentially life-threatening side-effects (Boseley, 2003; Boseley, 2005: Charatan, 2005) yet medication remains the dominant form of treatment for mental health problems (Moncrieff, 2009). The availability of alternative treatments such as psychological talking therapies is geographically inconsistent and access to them often involves long waiting times (DH, 2014).

We hope to encourage discussion and evaluation of the merits of complementary and alternative treatments. We have already started to develop links with service user groups and organisations such as the Hearing Voices Network who offer differing perspectives on mental health provision. We intend to invite speakers to share their visions of the future of psychiatric service provision and run workshops which will enable us to consider alternative perspectives on approaches to treatment and support. We recently held the first of these sessions, a well-attended Gestalt Art Therapy practical event which investigated emotional responses to visual imagery.

We have a facebook page, or follows us on twitter @SSiMH_Network and the SSiMH website is under construction. We welcome comments, questions and suggestions from students, service users, carers, professionals and anyone else who may also be seeking sense in the mental health field.

Nik Holland, Zoe Hughes, Robyn-Jayne Crofton, Laura Johnstone, Chantelle Maduemezia, Sasha Marshall, Imogen Sotos-Castello and Graeme Wetherill Mental Health Nursing BSc (Hons) students


Beasley, C. 2011. The heart of nursing: past, present and future, British Journal of Nursing 20(22) 1407.

Beddoe, A.E, S.O Murphy (2004) Does mindfulness decrease stress and foster empathy among nursing students? The Journal of Nursing Education 2004, 43[7] 305-312. Available at: Accessed 10/02/2015.

Boseley, S. 2003. Drugs for depressed children banned. The Guardian. Available at: Accessed 04/01/15.

Boseley, S. 2005. Drugs ‘can trigger suicide in adults’. The Guardian. Available at: accessed 04/01/15.

Charatan, F. (2005) Study finds that new antipsychotics offer few benefits over traditional drugs’ British Medical Journal volume 331 p. 717.

Clarke, P. N. 2012. Discipline-Specific Knowledge: Time for Clarity, Nursing Science Quarterly 25(2) 149-150.

Department of Health (2005) Government response to the Report of the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill 2004. London: Department of Health.

Department of Health (2014) Closing the Gap: Priorities for essential change in mental health. London: Department of Health.

The Independent (2015) NHS hospitals flatlining: Staff morale falls to new low after Coalition ‘bashing’ Available at: Accessed 16/02/15.

Lee, R. C. and J. Fawcett. 2012. The influence of the Metaparadigm of Nursing on Professional Identity Development among RN-BSN Students, Nursing Science Quarterly 26(1) 96-98. Available at Accessed 16/02/15.

MacDonald, H. 2006. Relational ethics and advocacy in nursing: literature review, Journal of Advanced Nursing 57(2) 119-126.

Miller, A. (2011) ​Exercises to Achieve Alpha Brain Waves. Available at: Accessed 10/02/2015

Moncrieff, J. (2009) Deconstructing psychiatric drug treatment’. In: Mental Health Still Matters, edited by J. Reynolds, R. Muston, T. Heller, J. Leach, M. McCormick, J. Wallcraft, and M. Walsh. Milton Keynes, The Open University.

NMC (2008) The code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. London: NMC.

Pilgrim, D. (2005) Key Concepts in Mental Health. London: Sage.

RCN (2015) ‘Nursing workforce morale at all-time low’ Available at: Accessed 16/02/15.

Scheick, D.M. (2010) Developing Self-Aware Mindfulness to Manage Countertransference in the Nurse-Client Relationship; An Evaluation and Developmental Study. The Journal of Professional Nursing 27[2] 114 – 123. Available at: Accessed 10/02/2015

Szmuckler, G. and Applebaum, P. (2001) ‘Treatment pressures, coercion and compulsion’. In: Textbook of Community Psychiatry, edited by G. Thornicroft and G. Szmuckler. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


The other woman

“I didn’t like your letter.” Norman said.
Rebecca, his daughter, had written to him on Father’s Day. It was formal and very unlike her usual style. She expressed her concerns, not so much at the marriage, but the secret way they had done the deed. She worried that he had kept something from her, perhaps about his health. She sensed something was not right, her intuition rehearsing all manner of tragic scenarios. He had phoned her that Father’s Day evening and told her about his cancer and the treatments he had undergone.
Some weeks later, Norman agreed to meet with his children for lunch for his 70th birthday, leaving his second wife, Esme, at home alone. Rebecca and Greg, his grown up children, insisted they wanted to meet and spend some time with him as a family.
They had lunch, but neither hungry nor enjoying the meal at the quiet bistro. After Greg left to go back to work, Rebecca and her father had some time alone together. He avoided her gaze, longing to get back to Esme. It was not the big welcome Rebecca had expected or hoped for.
“You seem to be living in another world, to have shut the door on me and Greg.” She said.
“Well, I have,” he replied. “I don’t understand why you can’t be happy for me. All our friends are.” His coldness shocked her, witnessing a side she had never experienced.
“You must know I found it so hard losing mum, and then all this… it was all so quick.” She said.
She blocked her tears, embarrassed to lose control in a public place. She longed for some indication of warmth and sympathy, a kind touch. He showed no empathy, not caring in the slightest that she had been so distraught and needed counselling to deal with the sudden death of her mother. It felt so brutal, not one iota of sensitivity to her pain. The impact of losing her mother, his wife of over 40 years, swept away, dismissed like the grubby plates in front of them from the half-finished meal.
“I can’t do this again.” Norman said sadly, as he fumbled for his coat.
“Ok, I understand.” She said. He had made his choice and he wanted her to be pleased for him, but she couldn’t, it was all so raw and his loving someone else felt so obscene and offensive to her mother, her memory violated.
She wondered why the need to be a part of her father’s life was so strong, why was her happy marriage, busy job, two children, not enough? What was it that had made their relationship so special? She had pondered, in her darkest moments, if there was something almost sexual, but this was ridiculous, she dismissed this. The umbilical cord to her past was pure and innocent and formed from her memories of childhood and adolescence: the unconditional love of a father to his daughter. He always made her feel she was so special.
Over the next ten years, Rebecca learned to be grateful that she kept some communication with her father. Christmas and birthdays, she used her boys as hostages to get through the threshold of her former parents’ house. Every visit .some subtle change had been made until nothing of her mother’s taste remained; her pictures were quickly relocated to the loft, Esme’s family taking precedence on the teak sideboard. All the detritus of the previous life removed, snuffed out so her memory was invisible.
At times, she found it hard to imagine where it would all end, if she would be allowed to see Norman if he became ill again or if she would be exiled. She rehearsed how she might respond. She dreamt of one bedside vigil, being called to see him, begging her forgiveness for all the hurt he had caused, content that the happy ending she longed for had come at last. But she knew that Esme would make her suffer in some evil way and she would hear after he had died, denied access to make their peace and forever living in pain and sorrow.
Sometimes she decided to sever all ties, protect herself, building her resilience to cope with the loss to come, but never quite having the guts to go through with it, always keeping some superficial reason to maintain contact, frightened of what she might lose and how she might feel afterwards, as there would be no going back.
Then Esme died suddenly, she could see Norman when she liked, no longer estranged, alienated from him after all those long years of separation. But it was a bitter-sweet victory, as dementia had crawled into his mind leaving an empty catacomb where memories of their happy times together once thrived.
The call came at 5.30am. “Get here soon as you can.” Greg said, exhausted from lack of sleep and the enormity of the situation. Rebecca drove through the night, oblivious to the driving rain and speed cameras. She ran to the Emergency Department the glaring white lights ablaze as she wove through the maze of curtains and rooms, searching for him.
He lay there attached to the ECG monitor, bleeping with life, taunting her with hope. She looked into his eyes but there was no response, just dark pools, fixed and dilated. He never wanted to be kept alive; his biggest fear dependence. The machine with its incessant alarm was switched off and he gasped his last breath. She left the room, letting out a primal scream, but no tears came. She didn’t care who heard her. It came from the very depths of her heart, so broken, mended and now ripped apart, and this time for good.
They moved him to a room, an oasis of calm in the madness of the busy department. He was laid out respectfully, his soft baby-like hair brushed neatly. Rebecca gently kissed his now cool forehead.
“I got you back.” She said.

Helen Stanley, Principal Lecturer School of Health Sciences


Arts and Health: Creative Writing as a Reflective Method in Healthcare


In this essay I shall explore how creative writing can aid practitioners in the formation of therapeutic nursing relationships. I will first discuss some of the benefits and barriers to the establishment of the therapeutic relationship in nursing. I then turn to the potential of the use of the arts within health care, to establish reflective and self-aware practitioners. Following this, working towards closure of the essay, I turn to the value of reflective practice, including the benefits of creative writing to aid my awareness of self, particularly within the nursing role. In this context, I focus on my creative attempt, a fairy tale entitled The Girl and the Well, which can be found as an appendix to this essay, below the reference list.

Therapeutic relationships in nursing: benefits and barriers

All nurses must build partnerships and therapeutic relationships through safe, effective and non-discriminatory communication. They must take account of individual differences, capabilities and needs. (NMC 2010) To develop and inform our knowledge of patient health needs, nurses must build up a strong rapport with those in their care. They must establish a ‘therapeutic relationship’ (NMC 2010) in which patients feel able to express their needs, beliefs, social/cultural contexts and any pre-existing health knowledge. Good communication is essential in the negotiation of the therapeutic nurse and patient relationship. It has the potential to not only affect the actual care delivered but also how the patient perceives it. As Jootun and McGhee (2011, 41) state: ‘Poor communication can compromise care, which can lead to undue anxiety and frustration on the part of the patient’.

However, effective communication is a complex skill and can, particularly within nursing practice, prove problematic. Communication, as Balzer Riley states, ‘involves the reciprocal process in which messages are sent and received between two or more people’ (cited in Bach and Grant 2011, 11). These messages and delivered both consciously and subconsciously via body language, verbal discourse, eye contact, etc.

The communication process can become further distorted by the interpretation of these messages, which will inevitably be translated through individual schemas (Niven 1995). Schemas referred to an internal storage system informed by facts, experiences, beliefs and views, which we compare and contrast all new and incoming information to (Niven 1995). Processing this information allows us to make sense of our surroundings, to shape our social perception. However, the sense derived is not necessarily a universally accepted perception, as Niven and Robinson explain: ‘each individual’s different observations has been influenced by his or her background. The scene is constant, but the observations are different’ (1994, 40).

This highlights the fluidity of perceptions and their potential to become unconsciously prejudiced. In turn, this can lead to the individual selectively recalling information that can lead to the formation of what Oliver (1993) refers to as negativity bias. Individual prejudices and/or biases can form barriers to communication and therefore the successful formation of a therapeutic nursing relationship. Acknowledging that these barriers may be unconsciously constructed, how then do we as nurses overcome them and create ‘the right conditions for the development of mutual trust’? (Niven and Robinon 1994, 45).

The arts in health care

The nursing theorist Peplau (1952) proposed that is through the exploration of one’s ‘self’ that nurses may start to over come the barriers to therapeutic patient relationships. Peplau (1952, 12) argued that ‘Self insight operates as an essential tool and as a check in all nurse-patient relationships that are meant to be therapeutic’. This is a belief that remains popular in the twenty-first century and is supported by Freshwater (2002, 6): ‘Knowing and recognising self through self-awareness and self-consciousness … can be seen to be fundamental to the development of caring alliance which is to be therapeutic’. Wagner (2002, 121), further argues that the notion of self-awareness is fundamental to our understanding of what caring is:

Implicitly threaded throughout definitions of caring is the need to develop a sense of self, a sense of knowing ones beliefs and values, intention to help, moral commitment to be present, ability to respond competently to another’s need, and willingness to entre therapeutic relationships that encourage human connectedness.

So, how then does the nurse become more self-aware? Wagner (2002, 128) suggests ‘art therapy’ as a possible means, explaining that through the creative process one can unearth the ‘expressions of the unconscious psyche’. The use of artistic methods of expression in health is also promoted by Staricoff (2004, 24), who declared that the ‘relationship between the arts, particularly literature and medicine, stimulates insights into shared human experiences and individual difference, and increases the language and thoughts of the practitioner’.

Staricoff argues for the importance of literary works, which contemplate issues of illness and death, as a valuable resource for practitioners to aid reflection on clinical practice. Wagner (2002) extends on this argument in his assertion that, while the benefits of studying established artists’ work are clear, healthcare practitioners should personally participate in the creative process in order to develop greater awareness of self and personal knowing. However, the creative process and the encouraged confrontation of personal experience is not always an appealing or easy task particularly to those who have been encouraged to focus on the science of nursing and not its art.

The value of reflection

Reflection on and in practice is a process, which has long been encouraged in nursing and nursing education (NMC 2010). As a students nurse I have been encouraged to reflect on my experiences of nursing practice with placement mentors. Indeed, it is an NMC competency, which they have assessed my ability to engage in.

However, not until a recent meeting with my mentor did I fully appreciate the importance of self-refection and the impact it might have on my practice. During this meeting my mentor asked me to reflect on any personal barriers I might have which would prevent me from delivering care. My initial inclination was to reply in the negative; after all I came to nursing with the simple desire to care. However, I wanted to give her enquiry the reflection and attention it deserved and so I took my time to consider my personal values and beliefs.

This led to a consideration of how I have come to hold my personal values and beliefs, my experiences of life so far. In doing so, a somewhat contentious personal memory was re-surfaced, one that I was not aware still had to power to bother me. As with most unwanted/painful memories my initial response was to push it aware, ignore it and hope it goes away. However, through it surfacing I realised this memory/experiences was most likely the sort of potential issue my mentor wanted me to be aware of.

This was clearly an issue, that should I be reminded of it during practice, consciously or subconsciously, could effect my delivery of care. My unwanted memory was from my childhood experiences of living with a parent suffering from alcoholism. Alcohol addiction remains a predominant issue it the UK with ‘1.2 million alcohol-related hospital admissions in England in the year 2011/12, a 135% increase since 2002/03 (Alcohol Concern, 2014) It is inevitable that in my role as a student nurse (and a future registered nurse) I will be delivering care to patients effected by alcohol abuse. This is an issue I needed to reflect on more deeply on to ensure it did not ever bias my care.

I decided to use creative writing as a therapeutic technique to explore this issue. To gain a better understanding of my self in the hope that an increased self-awareness would deconstruct any barriers I may construct to in the attempted formation of therapeutic relationships with my patients. Creative narratives offer the writer permission to explore their own story (Grant et al. 2011) and thus use the art of storytelling therapeutically. Slater (2005,4) similarly argues that creative writing is therapeutic as ‘your own fears and short-comings will find expression in the process… the stories you generate will at once reveal to you your mind while offering up chances to change it.

However, while the reflective output from my creative endeavors promised to be beneficial to my future nursing practice, I found myself daunted by this personal and emotional task and sought some creative distance from it. I found my distance in the simplistic and symbolic style of the fairy tale. In the security of the traditional fairy tale third person narrative I reflected on my experiences of my mothers descent into alcohol addiction when I was a child. This narrative choice was not only elected to maintain fidelity to my genre’s structure but also for the theoretical therapeutic distance it provides. By writing in the third person, in a fantasy world of undefined time and place, using symbols and metaphors to represent emotionally painful issues and events, one can externalize one’s feelings and thoughts without having to explicitly confront them directly. I found this technique worked as a sort of mediator between my realistic memories and the feelings that arise from them. It is the symbolic nature of fairy tales, which have made them a useful and respected therapeutic device in the emotional treatment of children and adults (Brun et al. 1993).

In reflecting on my piece The Girl and the Well, I became aware of its somewhat typical representation of Freud’s theory of separation anxiety. This was expressed well by Bettelheim (1976, 145), who stated: ‘no greater threat in life than that we will be deserted, left all alone. Psychoanalysis has named this – man’s greatest fear – separation anxiety; and the younger we are, the more excruciating is our anxiety when we feel deserted’.

In acknowledging this Freudian interpretation I was able to accept and reflect and on potential feelings of anger at the neglect of myself as a child. In representing my mother I incorporated the formulaic fairy tale element of ‘splitting’ (Warner 1995, 212), a conscious writing strategy that divides the mother figure into two different characters, the ‘good’ mother and the ‘bad’ mother. The severing of the mother figure into these morally polarized beings allows me as the writer to ‘preserve an internal all-good mother when the real mother in not all-good … [and] permits anger at the bad mother’ (Warner 1995, 212). This strategy allowed me to really reflect on my more complex and conflicting feelings about my mother, a process that I found surprisingly cathartic.

Although I found creative writing for self-reflection an overall positive experience, it was a long process. I didn’t just write the entirety of my story in one sitting and feel suddenly healed and enlightened. It took time. It was a reflective period in which I felt completed to read and not just write. I remembered, sought out and re-read Sharon Olds (1987) poem ‘After 37 Years My Mother Apologizes for My Childhood’, which I feel aided my reflection and helped construct the image of my mother in the my tale. At this stage I feel ready to let my fairy tale go, it has served its purpose and provided ‘testimony’ (Grant 2011, 2) to my lived experiences.


I feel that my attempt at utilizing creative writing to explore my self, and therefore become a more self-aware caregiver, was successful. A nurse’s beliefs can be, as Ersser (2002, 56) argues, be ‘communicated to the patient with or without intention’, which highlights just how important it is for nurses to be self-aware in practice. Although I would never knowingly behave in a prejudiced way towards my patients, I feel this deeper reflection has made me more aware of a pre-existing potential issue, which I have had the proactive opportunity to work on. It has also made me more appreciative of the personal narratives patients have and that are always being constructed. As, Slater (2005, 11) argues, ‘Everyone, absolutely everyone had a tale to tell. And everyone, absolutely everyone will have to revise it, only to revise it again’. I believe the learning process has allowed me the freedom to really develop myself independently as a reflective writer and nursing practitioner, a progression I’m not sure I would have been able to succeed to in a more formally structured module.

Charlotte Pendlington, BSc (Hons) Nursing (Mental Health) student


Alcohol Concern. 2014. Campaign: Statistics on Alcohol [website] [ accessed 20 May 2014]

Bach, S. and A. Grant. 2011. Communication & Interpersonal Skills for Nurses. 2nd ed. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Bettelheim, B. 1976. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. London: Thames and Hudson.

Brun, B., E. W. Pedersen and M. Runberg. 1993. Symbols of the Soul: Therapy and Guidance Through Fairy Tales. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd.

Ersser, S.J. 2002. The presentation of the nurse: a neglected dimension of the therapeutic nurse-patient interaction? In: Nursing as Therapy. 2nd ed. edited by McMahon, R and A. Pearson. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd.

Freshwater, D. 2002. The Therapeutic Use of Self in Nursing. [Online] London: Sage Publications. Available from: [Accessed 15 May 2014].

Grant, A., F. Bailey and H. Walker. 2011. Our encounters with madness. Ross-on-Wye: PCSS Books.

Grant, A. 2011. Introduction: Learning for narrative accounts of the experience of mental health challenges. In: Our encounters with madness, edited by Grant, A., F. Bailey and H. Walker. Ross-on-Wye: PCSS Books.

Jootun, D. and G. McGhee. 2011. Effective communication with people who have dementia. Nursing Standard. 25(25): 40-46.

Niven, N. 1995. Health Psychology: An Introduction for Nurses and Other Health Care Professionals. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone: 25-42.

Niven. N and J. Robinson. 1994. The Psychology of Nursing Care. Leicester: BPS Books: 39-64.

Nursing and Midwifery Council. 2010. The code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. [Online] London: Nursing and Midwifery Council. Available from: [Accessed 20 May 2014].

Olds, S. 1987. The Gold Cell. New York: Knopf.

Oliver, R. W. 1993. Psychology & Health Care. London: Billlière Tindall: 159-176.

Peplau, H. E. 1952. Interpersonal Relations in Nursing. New York: Putnam.

Slater, L. 2005. Blue Beyond Blue: Extraordinary Tales for Ordinary Dilemmas. London: W. W. Norton & Company Ltd.

Staricoff, R.L. 2004. Arts in Health: a review of the medical literature. London: Arts Council England.

Wagner, A.L. 2002. Nursing Students Development in Caring Self Through Creative Reflective Practice. In: Therapeutic Nursing: Improving Nursing Care Through Self-Awareness and Reflection, edited by D. Freshwater. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Warner, M. 1995. From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers. London: Vintage.

The Girl and the Well

girl&woodOnce upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in the heart of a dark forest. Her name was Little Rose and once upon a time she had been happy. Little Rose had grown up in the comfort of a cosy cottage with her young and beautiful mother whom she loved dearly. Although she considered herself content, Little Rose’s mother was a curious woman with a longing to travel and know all there was to know about the world. One day, tiresome of their modest cottage, Little Rose’s mother announced that she was to journey alone into the forest in search of new and exciting delights to return home with. “Oh Mother,” sobbed Little Rose “please do not go! Or, if you must, take me with you. I won’t be any trouble.” Unaltered by her child’s pleas Little Rose’s mother kissed her daughter on the cheek, made her promise not to leave the cottage, and set out upon her expedition alone.

All alone Little Rose sat by the cottage window and awaited her mother’s return. Years past and yet Little Rose kept her little nose pressed against the pane of glass, willing her mother to walk through the clearing to their cottage; to return home. One day, to her great joy, Little Rose did see her mother emerge from out of the trees and towards their little cottage. “Oh Mother, you have returned to me! You are home. How I have missed you,” shrieked Little Rose as she ran to embrace her mother. However, as she got closer she froze and gasped. The woman in front of her, although with a likeness to her mother, was old and haggard. “You are not my Mother! My Mother is beautiful with a sweet face and fare skin. Your skin is sallow, your mouth is mean, your eyes are red. Oh where is my Mother? What have you done to her?” cried Little Rose. Irritated by the child’s wails, the changed mother pushed her daughter aside with a rough dirty hand, entered the cottage and closed the door behind her.

Left outside, on the other side of the door, Little Rose fell to the ground and sobbed. After a time, when she felt herself more steady, she picked herself up and crept to the window. Carefully peering through, she looked in horror at the sight which presented itself before her. There on the bed was her mother, she was not asleep but awake, breathing smoke, drinking a blood red potion and cackling a strange broken laugh. Her head was swaying an unnatural sway as she began to cough, sending forth hideous flecks of red and yellow slime from clenched cracked black teeth. “This monster is not Mother,” whispered Little Rose as she backed away from the door of her once happy home. “I shall find Mother and together we shall rid our home of this false creature,” vowed Little Rose.

All alone Little Rose set out for the first time into the woods in search of the loving mother she remembered. The woods were dark and unwelcoming and as Little Rose tried to make her way through the masses of unruly branches her hair and clothes were seized and shredded by sharp thorns. As night approached, and the little light that shone through the trees died, the woods became alive with the sound of wild and angry animals shrieking, hissing and growling their warning to those unfortunate enough to cross their path. Hungry and cold, Little Rose persisted on her desperate journey, wandering in circles and calling out for her lost loving mother. “Oh Mother, shall we ever find each other?” As she sobbed these words a worn old owl flew down and perched upon a branch close to where Little Rose lay. “Do not cry Rose, I can tell you where your mother is,” softy hooted the owl. “Where? Please tell me at once! I beg you!” implored Little Rose. Suddenly with a wide sweep of his wings the owl took flight and glided off in and out of the trees, “follow me,” he hooted as he disappeared into a mass of vines and leaves.

Pushing her way through the dense brier Little Rose came to a dry barren patch of earth upon which stood a rickety stone well. The owl perched itself upon the edge of the well hooting “here you are Rose, just as you asked.” Bewildered and overwhelmed with disappointment Rose began to yell “how could you? How could you be so cruel? My mother is not here! Oh, I am all alone and I will never see her again.” As her cries became whimpers the owl flew down and placed itself next to Little Rose sighing softly “you are not alone Rose, and you are not a little girl anymore, see how you have grown.” Rose looked down at her self and gasped, it was true she was no longer a child, indeed she was now a grown woman.

“Once upon a time,” continued the owl “a young woman entered these woods thirsty for adventure and exotic treasures, dissatisfied with the riches her life already held, she let her blind and selfish greed guide her on her journey and it led her to this very well. This is the ‘well of temptation’ and only those willing to forsake their souls to it may drink from it.” Rose slowly stepped toward the well and begrudgingly peered into its depths, “the blood red potion,” she exclaimed “oh mother, was I not enough for you?” The owl stared hard at Rose, “what do you wish to do now my dear? Perhaps you too would like to partake from the well? Or perhaps your heart yearns to return home?”, questioned the owl. Rose glanced again at the well, the thick red liquid was rich and velvety, its aroma strong and enticing. “I am so thirsty” murmured Rose, “maybe I should have just a little … I have no home now … even if I do wish to return there.”

She lowered the old pail into the well and once it was full carefully drew it back towards herself, she lifted it towards her lips and was about to take her first sip when she froze in horror. There staring back at her, reflected in the alluring liquid, was the haggard sallow face which had possessed her mother. “No” she cried, “No, this is not what I want! I want to go home! I want to go home!” As she declared her last words Rose threw the pail back into the well and ran as fast as she could out of the barren land and through the woods. She passed vines and brambles shouting to them “I want to go home!” and as she did they parted, clearing her way. She ran into the darkest part of the woods and shouted at the hidden sky “I want to go home!” and suddenly the trees swayed their branches aside letting the newly risen sun shine through. “I want to go home!” she yelled once again and as she did she ran out of the trees into a clearing leading to a lovely little cottage. Rose stopped in front of the cottage. Suddenly the cottage door flew open and out ran a beautiful little girl calling “Mother! Oh Mother you have returned! You have come back to your Little Rose!” Rose took the little girl in her arms, kissed her on the cheek and softly whispered “yes my little one, Mother is here, Mother is home.” Hand in hand they walked together back into the cottage where they lived together happily ever after.


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