Author's Note: a belated birthday present to Josie! Happy Birthday!

My Darling Ally Pally,

I'm not quite sure why I'm writing this. I just saw this notebook in the art supplies shop and thought it was pretty. It is pale pink with large butterflies in pastel colours and glitter, there's little pale flower petals drifting between them. Sakura petals I think, Japanese cherry blossoms. I once considered it a name for you but then that day I was saw Alexandra was so grand, so beautiful against the bright blue sky and I just knew it was your name. You kicked when I said those words, pointing the view out to your father. So I just had this urge to buy it and when I did, I needed to write to you. Even though I know you'll never get this letter.

My baby girl, I somehow have this feeling that you need more than your siblings. Don't get me wrong, Linhe is at that time where a mother is needed and Rowan will probably never have someone to truly understand her ditzy ways like I do. Out of all of you, Rowan is the most like me. I used to do such wild things to my hair that drove your Grandma wild. But they both have your Grandma. She'll know exactly how to take care of them and encourage them to be their best while accepting their ways. After all, your Grandma raised me, she knows it all.

Tor, my little baby boy. I know he'll never speak up about his problems. Never cry or ask for help. He was such a quiet little baby. Didn't even scream when he was born. But I know your father; Martin will make Tor one of the happiest little boys in the whole wide world. Tor has his three big sisters, who, I hope, will be the fiercest and most protective of all protectors. Because I'll always see him as my delicate little baby. My precious quiet one. Despite knowing this, I still feel you need me.

Ally Pally, you keep a strong front at all times. You're witty, bright and always know the right thing to say. I remember once when you found me crying and you said "Don't cry Mummy, I'm here and so is Linn, Rowan and Daddy". Although it didn't cheer me up, it did remind me what was most important. You. All of you. It managed to make me put myself together. Long enough to do what was right. Oh Ally, I know you need me as much as I need you. We both see things about the other that no one notices. I know you, my baby girl; I know how you'll put everyone first before you wear yourself out and break down yourself.

Don't do it baby. Be selfish just once or twice, here or there. Otherwise you'll drive yourself to the point of just running and hiding. Like I am doing right now. Learn from my mistakes Ally Pally. The truth sets you free, if I can just bring myself to tell the truth, to just come home...but I'm so scared darling, I'm scared that you'll all hate me. That your father won't want me like he did back when I was seventeen. I'm not in some beautiful random country...I'm still here. In England. Just a train journey away.

I know, I know baby, I'm a terrible mother staying away like that. I know all four of you need me...but I don't want to come back hurting you all because of my lies. I didn't leave England...because...well you have a baby sister.

She's just a year old and she looks just like your father. Like you, Rowan and Tor. Dark tufts of hair and big Malteser eyes. She's so quiet, just like Tor and she smiles as prettily as you do. I named her Ivy, after this little town that I'm living in. It's just on the coast with beautiful sandy beaches and a large sparkling blue ocean. You've seen the pictures that I've sent with the letters. The letters that my tourist friends send from their own homes. Oh...oh. I'm just so dreadful Ally, I'm creating this huge web of complicated lies, I'm digging a hole deeper and deeper to the point I'll never come home because I'm so scared. I wasn't myself back then Ally, I felt so depressed and broken that I needed to go. And then when I found out I was pregnant with Ivy...i just couldn't go on my travels and then I couldn't go home because I wasn't well enough. I wasn't fit enough to be a wife and mother just yet. I don't think I am well enough to go home even now though I feel so...motherly I guess the word is, towards Ivy.

But I do want to go home baby, I really do. I love you all ever so much and you'll never know how much I crave for you father. I can't tell you how much. Mostly because it's not something you can describe but also you're far too young to understand such crazy and rampaging feelings. You've only just turned nine haven't you? I hope you liked the present I sent, it isn't much just a little trinket I picked up at the shop I work in. Val made it herself; I've mentioned Val to you once, haven't I? Back when you're a little girl, she was my best friend who went to art school in London. We spent a lot of time together before I married your father. She went back home after some family emergency and never came back. I missed her terribly which was why I cam here first before I started my travels. Of course I'm not actually travelling though, am I?

I know I'm probably just rambling here. But I need to get this out to someone. Somehow. And you were always to most understanding out of my three little girls. I don't want your father or Tor to be ashamed of me. I don't want you to be ashamed of me either but I feel you're the only one to actually understand this all. You will understand that I need my space, how overpowering my fear is how much I do love you and want to come home. It's just will you accept it and forgive me? Because I don't know if you will. You seem forgiving and the peace maker of this family and yet when Billy had accidently put bubble gum in your hair, causing it to be cut into that cute little bob of yours, you didn't speak to him for a whole week.

I've never seen a boy so desperate for a girl's attention before in my whole life. He literally followed you everywhere, including the bathroom just begging for your forgiveness. If it wasn't for his mother dragging him home by the ear I'm sure he would have slept right next to you in bed while whispering his apologies over and over again. It had become quite problematic for the school as he kept disrupting class in order to get your forgiveness. Embarrassing, wasn't it? I swear the main reason it took so long for you to forgive him was simply because he humiliated you all the time. Oh Ally, he's such a puppy when it comes to you, isn't he? Unwaveringly loyal and loving. His mother plans to send him to an all boys secondary school in a few years time. I don't know how you two will cope without the other; it's so rare to see you two apart. But I can understand Billy's mother's motives, hitting that age Billy will begin to see girls in a different light and could easily be distracted. Considering how easy it is to distract Billy, it's probably for the best.

But time apart could be what you two need. Your grandmother once told me 'if you love something you set it free, if it's meant to be, it'll come back to you' and I know what she says is very true. She had let my father, your grandfather, go once and he came back and married her. Your father has let me go and one day I will come back to him, when I find that courage I'm lacking. When I do come back I'll love you all more than now. Because you've all been so brave to let me go, because you've grown to be even more strong and better than I'll ever be and because I'll appreciate every moment with you more than I did before I left. One day, you and Billy will understand that. Your friendship will probably grow and be stronger with your time apart. So don't worry about being alone in secondary school. Besides, it's only two years away. Plenty of time to gather your thoughts.

I hear your little sister crying. We recently got a new dog, Ben, and he doesn't quite know his strength and how delicate little babies are. So I must go and sort it all our.

Lots of love, kisses and hugs

Your Mum.

P.S: send my love to your father, siblings and grandmother.

P.P.S: Ivy also sends her kisses

P.P.P.S: and Ally, give Billy a chance when the time comes. I think he truly does love you though neither of you truly understand the concept. I know boys are yucky right now but you'll one day change your mind. Don't pull that face young lady! XD

Love from

Mum xxxxx