The Green Woman On The Landing


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175 in stock


By Stephanie Sorrell

ISBN: 978-1-78382-090-0
Published: 2014
Pages: 161
Key Themes: Mental Health, Psychosis, Depression, Suicide, Family, Relationships


When I was five years old I would put half sucked fruit gums on the back of the headboard of my bed. These were to count the years until I was 21, because I would be old enough to leave home. The Green Woman lives in the house with us and I never know when she is going to punish me. She is kept secret from my step father.

My mother becomes a spiritualist. When she is angry, she goes into a trance and sometimes a horrible presence called the ‘convict’ comes through her and threatens me with a knife. My uncle is manic depressive and his brief foray into my life, makes life bearable and funny. Until he commits suicide when I am nine. My life suddenly changes again when I am sent several hundred miles away to boarding school. This true story, although bizarre in content, has humour running through it as well as fear. It isn’t until I am 14 years old when I realise who the Green Woman is.

About the Author

Despite all the odds of almost dying at birth, having a mother who suffered from psychosis, a father and uncle who both committed suicide, and being sent to boarding school at the age of 12, Stephanie managed the challenges in her life by writing. While she was working as editor of a publishing trust in Chichester in the 1990’s, she decided to do a Master’s Degree in Psychosynthesis Psychology. Halfway through the training she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital with severe depression. Undeterred, she carried on with her degree and graduated with a merit. Besides writing for the romance market, she has had a number of works published, including Depression as a Spiritual Journey in 2009 and Nature as Mirror and Psychosynthesis Made Easy in 2011. Her latest work, The Therapist’s Cat was published in 2012 with the central character being a psychotherapist and suffering from Bipolar 1. She lives in Cumbria with her best friend along with a whippet and a cat.

Book Extract

Just before my ninth birthday I went to my first Development Circle. It was run by Nurse Olay which was what everyone called her because she was always bragging about the face cream she used to keep her skin young. Nurse Olay looked about a hundred and boasted that she was only in her 60s. I had never seen anyone with so many wrinkles in my life. People used to say that if they couldn’t fall asleep counting sheep, then they should try counting Nurse Olay’s wrinkles instead.

There were seven of us in the Development Circle.

Nurse Olay said this was special number for contacting the spirits as it was a mystical one and it was easier for spirits to pass backwards and forwards through the vibration of this number. Because I was the youngest, everyone made a fuss of me and brought me lots of sweets and gifts. These gifts consisted of funny old fashioned pieces of jewellery to yellowing dresses that ‘had never been worn’ and china ornaments that I didn’t know what to do with and cakes which I certainly knew what to do with! The Circle wasn’t like school where there were endless rules and you weren’t allowed to fidget, rustle papers or eat sweets. In the Circle, the curtains would be drawn and a candle left burning in the centre of the room on a makeshift altar which was usually a chair or table. And the rules were: you kept quiet, closed your eyes and concentrated on sending out energy and light into the room.

Nurse Olay would open the circle up with a prayer about a ‘Great and Omnipotent Spirit of the Universe.’ We would all sit there, our hands on our knees, palms uppermost so that we could give energy and power to whatever was going to materialise in the room. At first nothing would happen, people would scrape their throats cough, shuffle about and sigh. But then someone’s breathing would alter and become more and more laboured as if they were finding it an effort to breathe. There was a growing tension in the room which could have either been the spirit guide or our own anticipation.

Peeping out of the corner of my eye, I could see Nurse Olay leaning forwards, hands outstretched to the heavy breather who, in this case was Barry, a young blind man in his twenties who had long artistic sensitive fingers and a face that would have been very handsome if he had less acne.

“It’s all right, Dearie,” Nurse Olay soothed and placated the spirit which was obviously hovering near Barry. “You’re quite safe here… You’re very welcome… Don’t be afraid!”

My heart was drumming away with a mixture of excitement and fear as the tension in the room became palpable. Barry’s features became distorted as if his face had become too small for him and he continued to breathe loudly. And then he turned to me, his sightless eyes eerily picking up the candle flame. “I want to – to come to this child,” his voice had changed to an older more effeminate one which both fascinated and spooked me.

My heart thudded as I realised that this was me.

Mum elbowed me. “Say something,” she whispered. “The energy goes if you don’t respond … The spirits need our response.”

“Hello,” I ventured timidly.

Barry’s face was beaming across at me. “Ah Stephanie,” the old female voice spoke through him with a slight West Country accent :“Do you remember me? We used to meet by the river……And I used to get you to feel for my wings? Well – I must have grown them because here I am!” the spirit giggled.

My mouth dropped open as I stared at Barry who wasn’t Barry any more. Everyone laughed and I felt my mother nudge me in the ribs again. “Answer her!” she hissed. “And speak up.”

“Hello,”I began nervously, but then the words rushed out, “What do you do in heaven all day? Do you ever get bored?”

“Well – I’m not exactly in heaven yet… I’m still … learning…” her voice trailed off .

“The power’s going,’ someone muttered… “She’s slipping away.”

“Say ‘thank you’,” Mum prompted.

But it was too late. The ‘river’ lady had gone and Barry was back in the room with us looking a little shaken and confused as if he’d just woken from an afternoon nap.


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