Saturday, 19 September 2020

So Blind

 

by Amanda Jones

a bloody Mary

 

It was a shock.

A new baby, the one she had always wanted, yet she was thrust into grief. Her eyesight wouldn’t allow her to see her little girl properly. It was cruel.

It was a struggle.

Deceit.

Blackness and blurriness mixed with flashes and dots.

Before becoming pregnant she had just started her own career of commission work with her fine artwork. Pain had ensured she could not travel far on her moped and she had tried working in an engineering firm as secretary. She had taught herself to type on an old typewriter which now sat upstairs near baby. Then she had successfully applied for a job in the ‘path lab’, bought a Mini and enjoyed driving.

Now, she found herself unable to work yet alone drive; those few months before pregnancy were to be her only time. The pain was ever-present and she could not see. Soon after returning home from those long months in hospital she collapsed after being told she was ‘lazy’ and a ‘hypochondriac’ as she struggled to feed, sleep, do the housework and cook. All mothers had to endure baby. She was rushed in by ambulance and they helped to stabilise her diabetes. Here she learned that she had severe bleeding on her retinas called ‘diabetic retinopathy’ and was referred quickly to London to the Moorfields Eye Hospital, the best in the country.

Was it so because this was ‘visible’ unlike her pain?

Over the years thousands and thousands of laser shots were fired into her eyes. Often her little girl accompanied her with a relative. She relied on her child to guide her through the London Underground as she could not see, with her vision made worse from dilated pupils and laser beams.

Then, her girl stayed home, going to school on the days she went to London. She had to find a phone box with coins used, then later a phone-card to tell her she was on her way back by train. Once she had a near miss at the famous King’s Cross escalator fire and it was the time of the IRA bomb scares.

How her girl did worry, all through her childhood and beyond.

When her girl was eight, she was admitted to Moorfields for a vitrectomy. It was the last resort. Laser treatment had stabilised her left eye leaving a small patch of vision in the bottom right of it. Her right eye refused to stop bleeding. So, they replaced the jelly in this eye with an oily substance, making her blind in it but succeeding in stopping the haemorrhage.

She thought about the tears from her child as she came to see her in hospital and then later when she returned home with a patch over her eye.

How to survive?

Time and time again her girl said she should get help. So, together they called Social Services. Now, it was 1989 and her baby was ten years old. With the social worker they completed the Disability Living Allowance forms and were supported. She got a white stick, signed up to the Large Print talking newspaper, had access to the Large Print books from the library and she was able to have a large magnifying glass. For the first time since 1978 she found freedom and independence. She had some money of her own and things started to change.

And throughout all of this time she taught her little girl everything. She sewed, knitted and crafted by touch, making hundreds of soft toys for Moorfields to sell in their hospital shop and her girl joined in. They carted four or five black sacks full every year on the train.

Unfortunately diabetes wasn’t finished with just her eyes.

 

About the author 

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Friday, 18 September 2020

Too Hot to Handle

 

by Penny Rogers

Earl Grey Tea in a bone china teacup with a saucer

Monday 2.10 am  I have no idea why I keep waking up at exactly 2.10 in the morning. It’s the fourth day in a row it’s happened. Awake, alert, ready. Ma would’ve said it’s a guilty conscience. She’d know all about that.

Monday 2.33 am  Still can’t sleep. There’s an engine running, a petrol engine. Not a big one, so it must be a car and an oldish one at that. Had a boyfriend who was a mechanic, forgotten all about him but not about internal combustion engines.

Tuesday 2.10 am  There it is again. No need to get dressed, I’m all ready, just put on me Miu Mius and out I go. Been a while since I’ve done this, it feels good.

Tuesday 2.15 am  Walk slowly, really slowly,  past the car. It’s parked just opposite my place, no wonder I could hear the engine. It’s an old Renault Clio. Just one man inside, in the driver’s seat, looking intently at his phone. He doesn’t even glance towards me, doesn’t stopping tapping away at his phone. An old Android by the by the looks of it. Not worth much, like the car.

Tuesday 2.18 am  Walk past the other way. He looks up. I stumble slightly, just like Ma showed me all those years ago. He looks straight at me. I turn very slowly towards him and wink, ever so slightly, and keep walking. I take a tissue out of my bag and let it fall behind me. I turn round to pick it up and see he’s looking at me and not his crappy phone. I walk back towards the Clio; real, real slow.

Tuesday 5.30 am  Have a shower and go to bed, it’s just getting light. That was tougher than I’d expected, must be out of practice. I’ll sleep for a few hours, not for too long though, got quite a bit to do.

Tuesday 10.30 am  Ring Currys and order a new freezer. It won’t be delivered until Friday; I’ll have to move bits around in the old one.

Tuesday 11.00 am  Put the washing machine on hot wash, and the dishwasher. Can’t be too careful. Sort the bags out for the freezer, what if they won’t all fit?

Tuesday 11.10 am   Text Leroy.

Tuesday 11.30 am   Leroy says he’ll do it as a favour. WTF, the car is worth something and owing Leroy a favour is bad news. At least he’ll come and get it before some neb starts asking questions.

Wednesday 2.10 am   Gotta do something about those bags. God they’re heavy.

Wednesday 1.00pm  It’s all over social media and the radio. Police searching the river, found one of the bags.

Wednesday 1.25 pm. Cancel the freezer order. Lose deposit. Shit, what’s happening?

Thursday 2.10 am Wake up. Sounds of graunching followed by a thump. Risk looking out at the street. Leroy’s  tow truck has just dumped the old Clio on the double yellow lines right outside my house.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

To the Airport

 


By Mike Sedgwick

water melon juice


‘Is it just the one bag, Sir?’ The taxi driver wears a khaki Shalwar Kameez and a large black moustache. ‘Indira Gandhi Airport is it?’

The doorman of the hotel, immaculate in his Indian uniform and Dastar, snaps to attention and salutes. ‘I wish you a safe journey, Major, and hope to see you again soon.’

This little saluting game with the doorman, whose name is Dinesh, started when I arrived at the hotel. I was carrying a long postal tube over my shoulder as a soldier carries his rifle. Dinesh saluted in the approved British Army fashion, slowest way up, quickest way down. I returned the salute in the manner of a soldier carrying his rifle at the slope. After that Dinesh and I always salute one another smartly and with broad grins. It is a re-enactment of the old Empire days.

‘On your next visit, you will be Colonel.’

‘I’ll let you into a secret, Havildar Dinesh, I have never served in the army, but I know that you have. I look forward to seeing you again sometime soon.’

I climb into the spacious interior of the slab-sided Hindustan Ambassador. The bodywork displays dents and scratches. There is no tread on the tyres, slicks they would call them in F1 parlance. A wheel nut is missing. The driver manages to close my door on the third attempt by lifting and shoving it with his bum. With a crunch, he engages first gear, and we jerk away, leaving a furrow in the gravel.

‘What your country, Sir?’ asks the driver.

‘England.’

‘You must be good Christian man, from England; Archbishop and Pope.’ He fished around the shelf under the dashboard and retrieved a crucifix which he hung on his rear-view mirror. Also on the shelf I can see a statue of Buddha and one of Krishna. Probably there is a Star of David and a Crescent as well. All options are covered. I decide not to explain about the Pope.

‘You must be ver important man, but my life is misfortune. My wife, she ver sick. Doctor say to take medicine, or she die. Prescription cost ten dollar a bottle. Where can a poor taxi driver find ten dollar for medicine? He stared hard at me in the mirror but seeing no response, he tried another tack.

‘Ver little traffic today. We have time, I take you to my cousin’s emporium. He has many jewels, rings, gold for your wife. He give you best price, plenty discount.’

‘No, we will go to the airport.’

‘You no look happy, Sir. I have young niece, she know how to make a man happy, ver pretty girl, Sir, ver clean. We have plenty time.’

‘No. Please go straight to the airport.’ Do not pass Go, do not collect ten dollars for your wife’s medicine and do not stop at your niece’s brothel. I stare him down in the mirror.

We make a sudden swerve, the taxi lurches and grinds to a halt in a marketplace. I watch a wheel wobbling along the street, heading for a fruit stall manned by a portly Muslim with a black beard. The whites of his startled eyes shining whiter than his Takiyah. He and I know what is about to happen.

The wheel hits the side of his stall which teeters and then collapses, sending an explosion of fruits in a colourful fountain onto the street. Orange mangoes, green limes, yellow bananas, red mangosteen, pineapple, guava, star fruit, papaya, coconut and melons roll between the legs of the people. Dorian and breadfruit roll more slowly.

Within a moment, the driver is out of his taxi and chasing his wheel. The stallholder hitches up his thobe and pursues the driver. They begin to have words and gesticulate wildly, surrounded by ladies who kneel before them, gathering and scooping as much of the fruit as possible into the folds of their saris.

The two men make threatening gestures to one another and then turn to look at me. I do not need language skills to know what is in their minds.

‘It’s his fault, the foreigner, he’s got money. He will pay for the damage.’ They make their way towards me as the fruit-laden women watch. ‘Stop him,’ they cry, as I turn away.

‘Sir, Sir, get in.’ A young man blips the throttle of his tuk-tuk. I shove aside melons and a large comb of bananas. The rear shelf is piled high with mangoes and pineapples.

‘To the airport, quickly.’ We shoot forward and squelch over a water-melon, its sweet-smelling juices spattering nearby legs. This is no time to argue about the fare; this man is a good Samaritan.

‘What religion are you?’ I ask once we are clear of the crowd.

‘What religion would you like me to be? I try to satisfy my fares.’

‘Atheist.’

‘OK. Atheist. Which God do they worship?’

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Tread the Air Softly



by Debz Hobbs-Wyatt

instant coffee


It’s a gentle sound; a whirring sound; a slowly building humming sound.
It’s a loud sound; a drilling sound; a can’t-go-to-sleep annoying sound.
            And it won’t leave.
I’m the only one who can hear it.

I still go through the morning ritual though; like fumbling with the Christmas tree of leads behind the telly, unplugging the stereo, lowering my head flat to the table so I’m cheek to cheek with your broken laptop. I see the world sideways: the room, the spine of your book, the pile of postcards.
            As I flick the kettle on, I picture the fella in the blue overalls, the one who came last summer when it started. He shook his head, clicked air like there was a polo mint stuck on the end of his tongue. “Electrics are fine,” he said. He didn’t even know me but he was standing there in my kitchen in muddy boots slurping cold tea saying, “Must be in your ’ead.”
“Sod off,” I said.
            But it’s what they all think.  

I spoon coffee granules into a chipped Sesame Street mug, your chipped Sesame Street mug. You said Elmo was your favourite. I said you were far too old for Elmo. You said lots of students like Elmo. What even Anthropology and American Studies students? Especially Anthropology and American Studies students. Sesame Street is American history.
 Sod off I said.
            I prefer Jemima Puddle Duck. She is definitely more English Lit with Social Studies. When I said that you told me to sod off.
            I don’t wait for the kettle. I push open the back door and a bolt of cold air rushes at me, like an over-zealous ice sculpture with puckered lips and outstretched arms. Or Aunty Mish (God rest her soul) staying give us a kiss Twinkle.
            Why did Mum have to name me after a verb? To twinkle? It’s not a verb Mum said, it’s a name, a noun. It’s a verb I said. Then she added it’s what she was gonna call her guinea pig when she was five, until her mum changed her mind and they got a new toaster instead.
I suppose it could’ve been worse. You said your rabbit was called Engelbert Humpalot.
 But thing is, as I stand here in nothing but me jim-jams and Big Foot Slippers (your Big Foot slippers) I pretend it’s you. You with puckered lips and outstretched arms and I don’t even mind if you call me Twinkle. Or Twink. Or my little bird (your favourite). I don’t even mind if you call me Engelbert Humpalot.
But it’s not you, is it? And it can never be you, can it?
I wish this humming would stop.

I try to picture your face. I look for you in the clouds. I used to spend hours lying on the hard concrete of the backyard because of something you said. About how you saw your nan’s face in the clouds after she died.
All I could see was what might’ve been Santa if you looked at it upside down (with a squint).
You said something about stars once. Remember? Lying drunk on Brighton beach on your twenty-first birthday. You said it was weird to think so many of the stars weren’t really there. Of course you then started philosophising, Native American folklore, some astrophysics thrown in for good measure. You lost me at light years. But it’s what you said next that stuck in my head, like this sound. You said: “No matter what happens, even when we’re gone, you’ll still see where we were.”
It was lovely, deep, insightful, until you started singing, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  
I hear the phone ringing. It’ll be Mum. Or him. I bet it’s him.
I don’t go in. I throw my head back and start twirling circles until I feel dizzy; until the phone stops ringing.
Your face is smudged; like a watercolour melted into itself.
Now all I can picture is him.
Not you. Him: Gary James.
 The one who looks like Ewan McGregor; which isn’t so bad. My mum knew his mum, remember? Gary not Ewan (shame). Remember how I always told you Ewan McGregor was my idea of heaven and you said yours was Beyoncé. I told you her ass was too big. You said I was jealous. Then you asked me why I gave Gary my number. I said it was for a lit project; we had to pair up. Oh you said.
I liked it when you got jealous.  
He keeps phoning. I don’t mean Ewan McGregor (pity). I mean Gary. He saw us once outside the doctors, me and Mum. Can he take me to the pictures he said. Said the same thing on my answer machine three days later. Can I take you for coffee? the week after that. And that last time: can I take you to that fancy Italian on the High Street?  
But that’s our place. You and me. Mum says he wasn’t to know.
I pressed delete.
I don’t want you to be deleted.
The only way I know you were here, isn’t from clouds or star-gazing but from the clothes in the wardrobe that don’t smell of you anymore. And from your socks in the drawer. You used to leave them all over the flat – remember? Same with your books; hundreds of bloody books on Native American Symbolism. Your obsession.
Mine is the sound. It never stops.
And you.
There’s a gaping hole the size of North America and I wish I could fall into it and disappear.
 I want your face.

I hear the kettle switch off. I stop spinning. As I shuffle I leave a trail in the snow. My feet are wet but I don’t feel it. I don’t feel anything. It’s like I float from day to day. That’s what Mum says. You’re drifting, Twink. You need to go back to work, Twink. People don’t live this way, Twink.
And last week she said: why don’t you have that drink with Gary? What can it hurt? Twink.
But everything hurts.
Sometimes the sound is the only thing that drowns it out.

Mum says I should take all your books to the Red Cross shop. But who wants to read about Shamanism? Would they even know what it was? You’ve seen the types that go in there. Maybe the types that would wear second-hand socks?
Nutters go into that shop: nutters like me. Or I did: when I went further than the doctors at the end of the road.
            There goes that nutter who lost her fella.
            But I didn’t lose you. You’re not wandering around Tescos looking for the toilet or down the back of the seat on the number 78 like my missing iPod. You’re not lost in a crowd at a Take That concert looking for me... are you?
            Am I lost?

I’m still in my jim-jams. The ones you bought me that last Christmas. The ones with ducks on.
You’ll catch your death, my little bird, you’d say if you could see me. But you can’t see me, can you? Or catch death and God knows I’ve tried. It sneaks up on you, like Aunt Mish eating her fish and chips in front of Corrie. Never even finished and they were from that posh chippy with the crispy batter.  
Gone.
Just like that.
Just like you.
But I don’t want to think about what happened to you. Not wanting to think about something is the same as thinking about it though. Like the sound.
Sometimes I think it’s my own thoughts as they whir in smaller and smaller circles.
Make them stop.
It’s part of grief they say.
It’s a reaction they say.
What after eighteen months? they say.
But it’s not a reaction.
 Wishing I could get to the end of our road without feeling like the word is closing in on my head: that’s a reaction. Wishing I could go to sleep and never wake up. That’s a reaction.
And blaming myself for what happened; that’s a reaction.
Why did I let you go?
“It’s a once in a lifetime trip,” you said. “Live on a reservation with real Cherokee Indians. I’ll only be gone a year.”
But a year became forever.
Your last postcard’s still on the fridge, next to your photo. Ten little words scribbled on the back. Ten little words on a rainy Wednesday morning but biggest ten little words I ever read. I was getting ready to go to the Co-op. Lousy job for a graduate you’d said. But what else was I supposed to do with English Lit and Social Studies? And what were you supposed to do with Anthropology and American Studies?
Exactly what you did do, I suppose.
I think of the postcard now.
It’s started to snow.
When I get home let’s get married, my little bird.
Did you get my reply? I put it in a card. Not a cheap one. A posh one from Clintons. One little word.
I didn’t see it; the card, in the plastic bag with the things they sent back.
What were you thinking riding a motorbike? How could you forget they drive on the other side? Was I your last thought?
           
Maybe it’s the earth that’s humming. You told me the earth hummed; on another postcard. You said it hummed at F sharp, or was it B flat? You said the Native Americans often lay with their head on the ground. Nutters – I thought, but now when I think about that all I can see is you. On some highway, under the stars. And a big shiny American truck.
The phone’s ringing again.
That’s when it happens.
Is it an angel?
            No.
A bird. The smallest bird I’ve ever seen; small as a butterfly and it’s hovering along the fence.
The phone stops ringing.
A trail of purples, pinks and yellows hang in the cold air; like a rainbow. You told me the Indians said the rainbow is the symbol of hope. See – I was listening.
I shuffle closer. And that’s when I realise the humming is coming from the bird.
It’s the same little bird on the postcard; the one pinned to the fridge next to your photo; the one I put there so I couldn’t forget your face.
Don’t cry. Don’t cry Twinkle.
The wings move so fast; like it’s walking on air.
I don’t move, can’t move, won’t move.
The snow is falling faster, settling on my hair and my nose and the cold is seeping into your slippers, burning my toes. But I still stare. I stare until I have to blink.
Until it’s gone.

The red light flashes on the answer machine. I’m sipping coffee from your chipped Sesame Street mug. Your slippers are soaked.
Gary’s voice: “Can I come and see you? Your mum says you find it hard to go out. Sorry. I didn’t know.”
He does look like Ewan McGregor, doesn’t he? Don’t be jealous, eh?
This time I don’t press delete. I’m still thinking about that bird and somehow I press to return the call.
I say one word, “Yes,” then my throat closes.
One little word that hangs there like that little bird. It’s what I wrote in that Clintons card.

Your book, the one by your laptop, says the hummingbird is a bridge between worlds. I’ve read that part twice. It says it’s a message from the departed:  open your eyes and start to live again. You’ve ringed it in red. Like you knew. But you couldn’t – could you?
            I look out at the yard. It’s snowing harder. Soon I won’t see the trail I made in the snow in your Big Foot slippers. But I will see the colours. Every time I close my eyes I’ll see them. And that little bird that wasn’t really there – was it?
            But now there’s no sound, only peace.

About the author

Winner Bath Short Story Award 2013
Shortlisted in Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2013
Debut Novel While No One Was Watching published by Parthian Books
www.debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk @DebzHobbsWyatt 
Writing Blog http://wordznerd.wordpress.com/ 
 NEW SHORT STORY COLLECTION OUT NOW! AMAZON
 
           


Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Ace Of Hearts

by Kay Donnelly


Irish Coffee


I had my eye on you the very first night you joined our club.
Suddenly Bridge had become more interesting.
But how to attract your attention, that was the problem.
Must develop a strategy,
Be ready for the night our paths would cross,
As cross they must.
I took lessons in secret, learned a trick or two and waited.
At last the night came when we met at table six.
You were North and I was West,
Bidding like a demon, but you won the auction :
Four Hearts—Vulnerable, Game on.
You finessed, you ruffed, you trumped,
But I had a trick or two up my sleeve.
Result, you were down one.
“You should have made the contract”
Your partner said.
I looked you straight in the eye,
“Bad break of the cards” I said,
‘I had all the hearts.’
Looking at me intently, for the first time,
“Well Defended” you smiled,
“We must have a game  some night soon.”
Mission accomplished, 
Let the games begin.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Return

 

by Roger Noons


a bottle of Stella



After Mum died, I begged my father not to remarry. 
    ‘This house needs a woman,’ he insisted, but waited the acknowledged six months before he went through a private ceremony. So private, even I didn’t attend. In fact the first I knew of the event was after they returned from a weekend at the coast and she couldn’t resist waving her left hand around.
    ‘This is Shelley,’ he announced. 
    I nodded then left the room.
    Within a week I had acquired a new job; assistant manager at an hotel sixty miles away. I was provided with a standard room, so I could stay away from the newly weds.

It was the first week in December and we were beginning to become busy when she rang to say Dad wasn’t feeling well and acting funny. I’d had no time off since I started at The Crown, so my boss could hardly refuse my request. 
    I decided to walk from the station, use the time to get my thoughts in order and calm my attitude. I rang the bell four times before I heard the sound of a bolt being drawn back. I was confused when the door opened and my father stood blinking against the light.
    ‘Hello Son, come in.’
    ‘She rang me, said you weren’t feeling well?’
    ‘When?’
    ‘Three days ago. I couldn’t get away until today.’
    ‘Well, she’s gone … come inside; don’t want to talk on the doorstep.’
    I followed him along the hallway. He didn’t bother to switch on the light. In the kitchen, he waved me to a chair and opened the fridge door; handed me a can of Stella. He took a bottle of cider unscrewed the cap and put the bottle to his lips.   
    Without opening the can, I said, ‘What’s going on?’
    ‘She left, yesterday.’
    ‘Did you have a row?’
    ‘No more than usual.’
    Each second I became more confused, sat, shaking my head.
    ‘You were right Adam, I shouldn’t have married her. She wasn’t right for me, nor I for her. Said my lifestyle was too unconventional.’
    Before we could continue our conversation, the doorbell rang. He left to answer it. I  ring-pulled my can, took a swig, and stepped up to the window to look at the garden. Not ten yards away, either side of a heap of soil, were two uniformed police officers, each holding a spade.



Sunday, 13 September 2020

Keep You Safe



by Marcy Dilworth

apple juice with a gin kick

 

Mama said, “I’m keeping you safe, stop that fidgeting.”

We stood on the corner, hand-in-hand, and all I could see were bottoms in cotton dresses and work pants, bare legs and scuffed heels caked with dirt.

 “Hoo boy, the city’s in full stink today,” Mama said.

Strangers nodded, fanning their faces with their bare hands. When the light turned, the whole crowd got moving, but slower than they did in winter.

She held my hand tight so my arm stretched up and my feet skipped over the street. My pink tank top scooted up my belly, and every step whammed me into the bristle of her leg. My belly got red and sore that day.

We walked and walked, over steaming tarry blacktop, across cracked sidewalks with spurts of grass here and there, and over potholes. When we crossed the fourth pothole, the biggest one, my feet left the street while my head jerked down.

            I said, “Ow, Mama.”

She said, “Hush your fussing, I’m keeping you safe.”

I was thankful she didn’t drop me in the pothole, since kids said the big ones went straight through to caves or the subway or China, but it hurt a lot so I couldn’t help some tears getting out.

We finally got near home, which I knew because I saw Sal’s, the store where we shopped. Mama let go of my hand and smushed me against the bricks with her thigh as she studied her purse. She thinned her lips for a second, then said, “Come on.”

The carts at Sal’s didn’t have an extra spot in front for me to sit like the carts in Grandma’s fancy grocery store. Mama plopped me in. The giant silver fans dried my sweat, the metal cart cooled my bare skin, and Mama pushed me through the fruits. They were beautiful and red and green and yellow and so close that I could touch them. Which I did.

            Smack!

Mama said, “Don’t touch! You break it, you bought it!”

            Could fruit break? And I didn’t have any money. But the slap was all the reminder I needed to keep my hands to myself. Mama weighed some onions, got a bag of carrots, and chose some old-looking cans from her special rack in the back of the store. She handed me the first few things, then dumped the rest in without looking. A can dinged my knee with the scab on it, but it only bled a little.

After she tapped the receipt with her fingernail to make sure the cashier had added it up right, Mama picked up the full-stuffed bag.

Out we went. I stepped on a tatty poster with words in big red letters and a picture of my kindergarten friend James. I’d asked Mama all summer if he could come over and play, but finally she gave me the “no” with the squinty-eyed look that said “I mean it.” I missed James. She grabbed my hand again and pulled me towards home.

            With that heavy bag on her hip, she waddled like the ducks I’d seen on TV. Every time the waddle took her to the bag side, she yanked my hand up higher. My tippy toes barely touched the sidewalk, and I tried to wriggle free.

            “Stop that squirming,” Mama said. “I’m tired, and I’m keeping you safe.”

I looked up to see a skinny boy on a bike whipping around the corner right at me, even though Mama and I were close to the building. Mama swung me out of the way. My head hit the grainy brick wall at the same time my arm loosened and everything went blurry.

            Next thing I knew, I was lying on the couch and could hear Mama and Daddy in the bedroom. He said, “I’ve seen it done a hundred times at basketball games. I could do it in my sleep.”

            Mama said, “Let’s ask that nurse down the hall.”

Daddy said, “Naw, give me a chance.”

I stood up. The edges of the room wavered. One arm looked longer than the other, and my shoulder burned and ached every time I moved.

Mama pressed me on her lap. I crumpled into her clammy baby powder smell.

Daddy lifted my arm and squeezed my shoulder. He said, “I’ll have your arm back in the socket in a jiffy.”

Before everything turned gray, Mama whispered, “I just wanted to keep you safe.”

 

About the author  

Marcy Dilworth is a recovering finance professional finally pursuing her love of writing. Recent stories were published in Potato Soup Journal, FlashFlood and Queen Mob’s Teahouse. She lives in Virginia with her husband where they serve their precocious rescue pup, Kirby. Oh, and she has a couple wonderful kids. Twitter: @MCDHoo41