Mum had been gone a couple of months, six I think… (An ordinary day. Feeling hollow but doing OK) …when I realized I could get rid of the sofa.
I thought it was ugly. She thought it was a bargain. A sofa’s not a keepsake and it was certainly no heirloom. I’d not inflict it on my kids. I got rid.
If I could’ve had her back then? I would’ve done. Even if it meant keeping the sofa.
Redecorated. Bought a new telly. Spent frivolous amounts of cash on scatter cushions. She disliked scatter cushions. I thought they were cosy.
My little boy drew on one of the cushions. On purpose. I was about to smack the back of his legs… (Mum would have. She smacked me when I was little) … but I stopped.
I never wanted to. I had known all along, somehow forgotten.
If I could’ve had her back then? I would’ve done. But she would not smack my children.
Mum had been gone a year… (Planting bulbs. Feeling conspicuous carrying a shovel ‘round the churchyard) …and I missed her .
It was as hot as the day she died. There was no breeze up on that hill. No cloud. Beautiful views stretched right out to the sea.
My little boy had grown. He helped carry water and dig holes. My baby was learning to walk. She wobbled on uneven turf between the headstones. I wanted Mum to see.
If I could’ve had her back then? I would’ve done. No question.
Mum had been gone three years… (Bulbs were doing OK. There was nothing left to plant that rabbits wouldn't nibble) …and I realized it was time to move on.
I kept the ghosts quiet while agents showed people round. The house sold. We moved away. A warm, terraced place in a small town by the sea. Dad died.
Mum has been gone eight years and I miss her.
Looking out from the Downs across cliff-top and sea, the churchyard seems nothing more than a soft-grey fleck on the green edge of town.
If I could bring her back now? Everything’s changed.
Ghosts exist. They sit in empty chairs and speak kettle-whistle. Wishing us well.
I'd heard horror stories in the playground, seen embarrassment and tears.
Shared in secrets that were passed around like candy.
Not for me.
All the messing about and the working it out. I didn't want Bad Sex by misadventure.
Like you said.
I waited. Not as long as the good girls, but longer than my mates.
You were worth it.
I was a bundle of nerve endings and inexperience but it was perfect, you were brilliant.
Just the thought of you sends shivers down my spine.
My best kept secret.
I wonder about you, at times. About your life, what you do, if you're happy or feeling blue.
Your children: Would I know them in the street? I guess now they're all grown up.
Just like me.
you’re a child.
Feeling poorly, snuggled up on the sofa. Or
Saturday night in front the telly.
Or walking to market.
Or along country lanes to the car-boot.
A downpour, diamonds on glass. Or
a shower with rainbows.
Or mist-glittered clothes.
Or blazing sunrise.
Calpol knocked back with sweet tea. Or
Panda Pop and crisps.
Or flask filled with tap-water.
Or bottle of squash unfreezing all its flavour first.
her telling, in her voice, with her
rounded southern burr,
most of the stories are chilling.
Most of the characters
are weak at best. Evil at worst.
A few of the extras sparkle.
They are generous. Kind. Brave.
Non judgmental. (sadly these disappear between chapters)
half way through her story (but you don’t know that then, to you it’s near the end)
she introduces a character.
Symbol of hope.
the child is You.
not knowing that.
A little blood, and then nothing.
Waited. But there were no cramps, no sweats.
No shrimp-like cell cluster.
She recalled the dates of this downfall: Of a
rape no law’d recognise.
Bus drivers’ strike.
Consultation with a grumpy-old-doctor-man.
"... you’re probably too late. Try an
Aspirin between your knees next time…”
This is how she told her love to me. Measured
against in-spite-of, not by because.
Knee length skirt, cotton cami,
lace shrug, and heels.
Fair skin, blonde hair, blue eyes. Very pretty.
My children edge past her, past the Other Women,
on their way to the park.
Son takes a second look, then hurries on. Crocs squeak
through sodden grass.
Baggy jeans soak up puddles of mud.
Typical twelve-year-old boy.
plastered in cut-grass, flushed-pink and grinning.
Daughter cradles the ball, and
crows about winning, while
The Pretty One, the Other Women,
alternate tuts with
but The Pretty One,